Sunday Supplement – 22/08/2021

Aug 22, 2021

Summer Sundays continue as the weather doesn’t seem to be playing along……

This week I wanted to talk about the miracle morning….and more broadly about pseudoscience and my own personal take on it. It will border into personal development quite significantly.

Personal development is an interesting concept/phenomenon because it tends to dawn on a percentage of people at some point in their lifetimes. As children we are heavily influenced by our parents or those who raise us – and will at an early age espouse a lot of their values. Education is one of the most interesting values that people tend to either rate very highly or not think too much of at all.

Often they make the mistake of correlating their own educational experience at school with their level of success, benchmarked in their chosen way (money, house, status/power) – and then extrapolate this to “I didn’t do well at school and it didn’t hold me back”. Where to start……firstly, let’s agree that education is not just about school. Not in any way. Life is an education and education is life, in my view.

If I look at my peers and consider those who observers and other people assume to be successful (rather than trying to objectively measure the success) – there are a couple of themes that recur again and again.

One is education – not in that traditional school sense, but the mindset of being the “eternal learner”. They listen. They learn. They try new things. If those new things don’t work out, they learn more and try again.

The other is hard work/work ethic. None of them have had it easy and none of them expect something for nothing. Quite the opposite. People get lucky and unlucky all the time and that’s why simply working hard or reading books or whatever, on its own, is no guarantee of success. But it definitely improves the probability.

So – why pick out the miracle morning? When I first read about it (for those who don’t know, this is a lifestyle choice of getting up much earlier than your “former self”, and using that time productively) it sounded quite close to the “woo-woo” scale of personal development. However, I’m open minded and took the time to read the book and digest it.

What I liked is the methodology. It’s often said that there are no short-cuts in life but that’s not so true in education. And this is where we get to pseudoscience and the educational conflict.

But what miracle morning and similar concepts tend to do is break down a number of complicated (and sometimes questionable) scientific studies and results and make them easy to understand and implement.

That in itself is somewhat praiseworthy, and by bringing the preserve of the intellectual to the mass market, there are really significant financial rewards.

It also tends to drive academics crazy because they maintain that these concepts can’t be shortcutted and these books, philosophies or movements misrepresent the “real” science. Back to the miracle morning.

Essentially the book claims to have studied the habits of highly successful people (measured by their net worth) and boiled them down to 6 habits which it then suggests practising in some way, shape or form every morning and getting up a couple of hours early in order to do so.

Hold on, I hear some of you say. This isn’t going to turn into a pitch for the 5am club, or the 4am club which looks down its nose at at 5am club, or the 230am club which apparently Mark Wahlberg is a founder member of. Sleep is important and there is a high correlation between getting enough sleep and your health – and without health we don’t have anything.

Good news though – just like most self-help methods, there is a “lite” version or a shortcut. That aim would always be 80% of the results in 20% of the time, right?

The cornerstone of the main point here is that we need to remember – will the average person be better off to adopt some or all of these habits, compared to the version of themselves before they read the book to afterwards? I’d suggest that needs to be the benchmark.

So – the 6 habits of MM?

A handy acronym of course. S.A.V.E.R.S.

Silence – Strikes me, as someone with three children, as something there is rarely enough of! A minute of mindfulness or similar is a nice reset/moment of calm.

Affirmations – the core concept is positive statements “I am strong and independent” – although if low self-esteem is an issue then results are better achieved by framing them as “I will” (e.g. I will lose 2 stone!). Positive thoughts framed correctly should add to any day.

Visualisation – Schwarzenegger is often a famous example given, and there is a specific example in bodybuilding where he imagined his muscles getting bigger, every day, as he exercised. Seeing yourself as you get to your goals or further down the track, on the path, can be powerful. As an incredible majority of what we do is subconscious, trying to influence our subconscious mind like this makes sense.

Exercise – something a large percentage of us don’t do enough of every day. Lots of benefits but great for getting blood flowing in the morning!

Reading – feeds into education, potentially – but one way or another even if it is only one page it makes sense and starts to build habits.

Scribing – the one to make the acronym work – using a journal or similar to write down something. Ideas, plans – one suggestion is to write down things you are grateful for. That tends to frame the day quite nicely when little annoyances come up – when put in perspective, it’s highly likely that the vast majority of those reading this are very lucky in very many ways, and it does none of us any harm to stop and realise that.

Since the publication of MM there have been many efforts to have a go at this style of book or philosophy but there’s also plenty of evidence behind, for example, the positive impact of meditation.

So – it might not be the most scientific or academically robust text – but does that matter? Has it had a positive impact on the world as a whole? Of course it has – and if more people woke up every day with the goal of having a positive impact on the world, it would be a better place. If a few of them got elected to parliament…..even better……

Until next week folks and I’d love your comments on this alternative summer series of articles – even if they are “can’t you just get back to talking about economics and property please”!