From 300lbs to a Navy SEAL: How to gain control of your mind and life
Are you living at just 40% of your potential? Here's how to tap into your inner Navy SEAL.
David Goggins is the only member of the U.S. Armed Forces to complete SEAL training, Air Force tactical air controller training, and the U.S. Army Ranger School, where he graduated as 'Enlisted Honor Man'. Seeking an even greater challenge, Goggins set about conquering the hardest sporting events known to man. Today he is considered to be one of the greatest endurance athletes in the world.
David Goggins: So I’m all about acknowledging your shortcomings in life. A lot of people talk about “triple down on your strengths. Triple down on your strengths and don’t worry about your shortcomings.” That’s a whole new thing I’m hearing right now. Maybe it’s not new, but it’s new to me because I’m not out there really listening to all this stuff. That’s the quickest way to never grow. To never grow. If you sit there and have that mentality of “triple down on what you’re good at” you’re never going to grow. You’re always going to stay the same.
Either you’re getting better or you’re getting worse. So one thing that helped me out a lot when I was growing up was people always ask me: how do you build mental toughness? Mental toughness—a lot of people have these classes out here. A class on mental toughness. Positive thinking. Visualization. All these different techniques.
Mental toughness is a lifestyle. It’s something that you live every single day of your life. When I was growing up I was a lazy kid. I was a lazy kid, and everybody goes, “How did you get to where you’re at today? How did you get to where you’re running 200 miles at one time in 39 hours? Being so disciplined?”
It started off, honestly, with recognizing that my bedroom was dirty. My bed wasn’t made. I lived a sloppy life. So I took very small increments in my life. I started making my bed. I started cleaning my room. There were dishes in the sink. It started off with doing small house chores. I saw that the yard needed to be mowed. So instead of being told it needed to be mowed, I would mow it.
I started doing things, coming outside of my lazy ways to become better. And for a period of time your brain doesn’t like it, but it starts to realize: this is a new way of thinking. We are now doing things that we are uncomfortable doing. We are doing things that we don’t want to do. So the brain starts to slowly grow.
And let’s say you don’t like to get up early in the morning to go run. I hated it. I still hate it. You do that. You live uncomfortably to gain growth.
You have to have friction in your life to gain growth. And the only way to do that is to make yourself uncomfortable. And get to the point where instead of running from the things you don’t want to do, you actually face them and start to gain more and more growth in your life. So that’s how I approach all those things.
Self-talk, for me, has been the biggest thing in my life. A lot of us have a dialogue that is crap. It’s a crappy dialogue. We live in a world right now that is very external. Everything is very on the surface. Superficial. Everything. And what we’re telling ourselves is what we see on TV. It’s what we see on Instagram. It’s what we see on Facebook. And we’re telling ourselves stuff that doesn’t really penetrate to our core, to the inside of our soul. So our self-talk is like: “What am I going to wear today? How am I going to look today? I need to act this way today because this way is cool.”
My self-talk became something that actually made me better. And I had a whole bunch of negative things in my life. And to get to the self-talk portion of it first, you have to quiet all of the phones and social media and all the negativity of the world to get to even hear your own self have a self-talk.
You can’t have self-talk if you’re hearing someone else’s dialogue and what they’re putting out on social media. How they want you to act. How they want you to dress. How they want you to talk. Everything out there is you trying to keep up with somebody. You’re not trying to find your own self. So you have to clear away all the crap. And how you clear away the crap to even get to your self-talk is you have to get all of the noise of all the crap of the world out of your head. So I call it going to a dark place. You have to get the noise out. Quiet your mind down. Get all the static out before you can even have a real conversation with yourself.
And that self-talk, a lot of times it’s very negative because of all the stuff we see on TV, all the stuff we see on social media. You have to create a positive dialogue.
There’s something I do that—I have a demonstration. I make somebody very strong and I can make them very weak within three seconds. I put self-talk, my own voice, in their subconscious. And I do something to them that makes them very weak. And they wonder how in the world do you do this. I do it because I’m putting my own dialogue in your head. I’m telling a person that “you’re insecure”. I’m telling a person that “you’re weak” and I’m able to make this person almost—they have no strength. And the I give it right back to them. And all day long we are feeding ourselves the wrong self-talk. It’s negative self-talk.
So all day long I’m putting the positive self-talk in my subconscious. I’m making sure that I’m walking around all day long giving myself the proper fuel to attack the world. That’s why I work out hard every day. I work out hard every day because I know the first thing in the morning, what I do is I clean my room, I clean my house, I go for a run, I work out. I want to win the war in the morning. Because the second I leave my house, the second you look at your phone, the second you turn the TV on you’re in a battle. All this negativity is coming at you.
But if you’re able to fuel yourself in the morning, win the war in the morning so you have the strength to face what you’re going to face in the world. The world is going to come at you with lefts and rights. You have to have the right kind of mentality, and that starts by not hitting the snooze button. It starts by waking up. No, you don’t want to do it, but that gives you the strength—because you did it.
If you do something you don’t want to do every morning you’re already giving yourself the proper self-talk. You’re already giving yourself the proper dialogue to attack the people that don’t like you. To attack your insecurities. To attack what the world is going to give you. So self-talk comes from belief in yourself. If you give yourself self-talk, positive self-talk, but you don’t believe it, it’s not going to come true.
You have to put the work behind what you’re saying and believe what you’re saying to yourself for that self-talk to become a reality in your subconscious. So now no matter what anybody says to you, no matter what you hear, you know the truth and you’re living through the truth, and no one can penetrate that. No one.
So one thing I developed in my life going through hard times is the cookie jar. The cookie jar is—all of us have a story; we’ve all overcome so many things in our lives. But we forget them.
And a lot of times we don’t spend enough time reflecting back on our lives realizing how great we truly are. We go through something, we put it back and we go on. And life is going to always challenge us, always challenge us. And during that challenging moment we panic. We forget who we truly are. That cookie jar that I designed for my brain is something that in that one second of panic, we lose our mind and we also lose how far we’ve come in life. You take that one second, go through your cookie jar, grab something in your mind. Look at it, read it, open it up. “Oh, I was in three Hell Weeks. I graduated two of them.” That’s a cookie.
It reminds yourself just how hard you are and it puts you right back into the right frame of mind to overcome whatever is in front of you. And usually whatever is in front of you isn’t as big as you make it out to be. We start to make these very small things enormous because we allow our minds to take control and go away from us. We have to regain control of our mind, and that’s what the cookie jar is: is gaining control of a situation that isn’t that big. Most situations in life aren’t that big. And if they are that big usually we can find the strength to handle them just through having the right mental process.
The 40 percent rule is something I designed also when I was growing up. I realized, when I was almost 300 pounds and I lost all the weight to become a Navy SEAL, I realized that I could have lived the rest of my life being a 300-pound person, never knowing what was truly inside of me. I could have been happy with that person. I was living at about 40 percent. Maybe not even 40 percent.
So in life—it’s like a car. A lot of cars have governors on them. A governor is something where, let’s say the speedometer says 130 miles an hour. You put a governor on a car, it may only go 91 miles an hour because that governor stops that car from going 130. We do the same thing to our brain. When our brain starts to go through suffering, when our brain starts to go through pain or starts to go through insecurities, when we start to feel uncomfortable with ourselves, our brain gives us a way out. And that way out is usually quitting or taking the easier route.
If we’re able to look at ourselves and face whatever we’re running from, you start to gain more percent on top of that 40. You start to realize okay, you start to slowly take that governor off your brain. We can do a lot more than we think.
At work, a lot of us have a horrible mentality at work. We go to work. We put all these negative things in our brains and it starts to cap our potential. We cap our potential by saying we’re giving 100 percent. No one is really giving 100 percent. Usually you’re giving 40 percent because that governor is stopping you. You feel pain, you feel suffering, you feel discomfort, you stop right there. Everybody has a wall in their mind. It’s a wall, and it stops us from going further. Most walls have a door or a window. You have to find that. You have to have the courage to find that. And once you open that door or that window you’ll realize how much further you can go. And you’re going to continue hitting doors and windows along this journey but you have to have the courage to open them up to get to that 100 percent. So it’s all about having the courage and realizing that we have a governor. We have to push past that governor and past your own mind games.
People always ask David Goggins: how did you get so tough? He is the only person to have completed Navy SEAL training (including two Hell Weeks), Air Force tactical air controller training, and U.S. Army Ranger School. Now that he has retired from his military career, he's an ultra-endurance athlete, committing feats of physical and mental resilience like the Badwater 135, which requires participants to run 135 miles in 24 hours in the peak heat of Death Valley. Not that he was always a super soldier: Goggins once weighed 300lbs and was by his own admission lazy and undisciplined. Here, Goggins explains how he transformed himself and won the war in his mind—from positive self-talk and building a 'cookie jar' of resilience, to the 40% rule, here's how you can learn to push past your own mind games. You can follow David on Twitter and Instagram @davidgoggins and Facebook.
But most city dwellers weren't seeing the science — they were seeing something out of Blade Runner.
On Sept. 9, many West Coast residents looked out their windows and witnessed a post-apocalyptic landscape: silhouetted cars, buildings and people bathed in an overpowering orange light that looked like a jacked-up sunset.
India finishes last of 60 countries in environment and sustainability, as ranked by the expats who work there.
- How 'green' is life in your work country?
- That's the question InterNations asked its network of expats.
- The United States ended 30th out of 60 countries.
Nordics on top<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDU2NjgyNy9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0NTczNzkyOX0.VgfqyjAa9avw6gFOE0qlgSgKuBN7DJmzOc5lzFGLm8g/img.jpg?width=980" id="1f0dc" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="b27458cf472d26cf1f87cb91623a0621" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Evo Hiking Area, H\u00e4meenlinna, Finland." />
Evo Hiking Area in Hämeenlinna, Finland. Great nature, clean air, clean water? Check, check and check.
Credit: Kanta-Hämeen kuvapankki on Flickr/ Public Domain.<p><br><strong>1. Finland</strong></p><p>The Nordic country scores at or near the top in all categories surveyed, including the quality of the natural environment (say 96 percent of expats in Finland), water and sanitation (96 percent) and air (95 percent). <br></p><p><strong>2. Sweden</strong></p><p>Swedes lead the world in environmental awareness (84 percent versus just 48 percent globally). Perhaps not surprising, for the homeland of <a href="https://bigthink.com/politics-current-affairs/greta-effect" target="_blank">Greta Thunberg</a>. This is reflected by government policy. Sweden currently gets more than 50 percent of its power from renewable sources and wants to go 100% renewable before 2040. "I've been here for over 20 years and I clearly see the benefits of my taxes paid coming back to me and the rest of society," says one American expat.<br></p><p><strong>3. Norway</strong></p><p>"The beautiful nature, the clean air and tap water, and the focus on the environment," are what one Ukrainian expat enjoys most about Norway. With 76 percent of expats happy with the availability of green goods and services, Norway's 'weakest' category is still 13 percentage points above the global average. <br></p><p><strong>4. Austria</strong></p><p>The first non-Nordic in the global ranking, Austria places in the Top 10 for each category and comes in first for the availability of green goods and services (90 percent). <br></p><p><strong>5. Switzerland</strong></p><p>Swiss nature is the most appreciated in the world (98 percent versus 83 percent on average). Switzerland also gets stellar results for air and water quality and the availability of green energy and green goods and services. </p><p><strong>6. Denmark</strong></p><p>Danes are very much into green causes, as is their government, say 83 percent resp. 84 percent of expats. "Organic food is readily available, and they are good with recycling," observes a South African expat. And they love cycling: 9 out of 10 Danes own a bike.</p><p><strong>7. New Zealand</strong></p><p>85 percent of expats agree that the New Zealand government takes green issues seriously. In fact, New Zealand plans to use 90 percent electricity from renewables by 2025. The country also scores high on the quality of its natural environment and all other categories – albeit slightly less on the quality of its water and sanitation.</p><p><strong>8. Germany</strong></p><p>"I enjoy the rising awareness about environmental issues and the alternatives the government and society are developing," says one Colombian expat. Indeed, 80 percent of expats agree the German government is pro-environment (versus 55 percent globally). <br></p><p><strong>9. Canada</strong></p><p>The only North American destination in the Top 10, thanks especially to expat appreciation of Canada's natural environment (96 percent), but also the quality of its water and sanitation (90 percet) and the availability of green goods and services (80 percent). <br></p><p><strong>10. Luxembourg</strong></p><p>"Access to nature for hiking and bicycling" is a definite boon for one American expat. In fact, the country's natural environment, although ranking 13th out of 60, is its lowest-rated subcategory. Luxembourg does even better when it comes to green energy, waste management, and the quality of its air and water.</p>
Taiwan, most sustainable destination in Asia<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDU2Njg1Ni9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1NzkxMDAxNH0.Roy7h_Od1cmaqBmamk-DP4rKMpLjTM-qIajG96alZAg/img.jpg?width=980" id="00799" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="dab52370e1edb5da5ebb0f5631027b1c" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="\u200bEternal Spring Shrine in the Taroko Gorge, Hualien County, Taiwan." />
Eternal Spring Shrine in the Taroko Gorge, Hualien County. Outside of Taipei, Taiwan can be surprisingly green and beautiful.
Credit: Zairon, CC BY-SA 4.0<p><strong>11. Taiwan</strong></p><p>The highest-scoring expat destination in Asia, Taiwan boasts 92 percent approval of its waste management and recycling, and 80 percent of the availability of green goods and services. But "the air pollution (in Taipei) is getting worse because it is too crowded," one expat complains.</p><p><strong>12. Netherlands</strong></p><p>Green goods and services are widely available, agree 82 percen of expats, as is green energy. However, 13 percent rate the Dutch environment negatively, 4 percet above the global average. <br></p><p><strong>13. Portugal</strong></p><p>Well ahead of its neighbor Spain (#20), the country scores high for air quality (91 percent) and natural environment (95 percent). "I like the opportunity for gardening and growing our own food," says one expat. <br></p><p><strong>14. Estonia</strong></p><p><strong></strong>Estonia scores in the Top 20 for every category and gets its highest marks for its natural environment. "A beautiful country with excellent air quality and open spaces," praises an Indian expat.<br></p><p><strong>15. Costa Rica</strong></p><p><strong></strong>Both the government and the people are very supportive of green policies, find 82 percent, resp. 67 percent of expats. "It's easy to live a healthy lifestyle with regard to the food, climate, clean air and water," says one. Costa Rica won the 2019 UN Champion of the Earth award and has pledged to go carbon neutral by 2050.<br></p><p><strong>16. Czechia</strong></p><p><strong></strong>"The beauty of the environment" is one of the best things about living in Czechia, says a Russian expat. No less than 97 percent of expats agree.<br></p><p><strong>17. France</strong></p><p><strong></strong>77 percent of expats are happy about the availability of green goods and services in France, which is 14 percentage points above average. The country also scores well for waste management and recycling. In short, France has a "good, green and clean environment," one Iranian expat finds. <strong><br></strong></p><p><strong>18. Australia</strong></p><p><strong></strong>While ranking high on the quality of its nature, water and air, Australia scores low when it comes to government support for green issues (51 percent). Fortunately, expats see more interest among the general population (68 percent). </p><p><strong>19. Singapore</strong></p><p><strong></strong>Expats rate the government's interest in green issues higher than globally average (77 percent versus 55 percent), but the Singaporean public's engagement for the same less than average (40 percent versus 48 percent). Of course, in a small, crowded place like Singapore, "(nature) spots are limited."<br></p><p><strong>20. Spain</strong></p><p>Spain's "scenery, diversity of places to visit and healthier environment" are what rate highly with one British expat. Its weak point is governmental and public support for green issues – but still slightly above the global average. <br></p>
London is "polluted and noisy"<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDU2Njg4Ni9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0NDg3NjkyOH0.3ySSD7jFBfAWA07u-EN-oL9x9cq9FZn06iz5aV0hEOw/img.jpg?width=980" id="f5630" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="80c9fa119e7ff3acc91e027b7529bfed" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="\u200bEven at 2:30pm, London gets clogged." />
Afternoon traffic jam in London.
World map for the 'sustainable expat'<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDU2Njg5MC9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzMzAyNjQ2MH0.hjRiMDmOSnn9EvKJtx_tlzql3Gf7ph8lt8bL6dPCft4/img.png?width=980" id="def5d" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="149be2f5a19cc625cb555d8078f62ce2" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="The best & worst destiations for the sustainable expat" />
Sixty expat destinations ranked for sustainability, from best (orange) to worst (light blue). In between: fairly okay (brown), middling (grey) and not that great (dark blue).
South Korea's "rather horrible" air<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDU2NjkxNS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY2MTY1MjIwNn0.2e6eBIc38sAZLFQGKw4UL3-SY3hA9NthX0Uj9L4ibZA/img.jpg?width=980" id="c10db" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="cba918e6e5455c2e5ff4f9d5caf54775" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="\u200bSmoggy Seoul" />
Seoul's air quality is so bad you can picture it. Only India's air is perceived as worse than South Korea's, according to the expat survey.
Bad, worse, India<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDU2Njk0MS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0NTcyMTczMH0.Pt2bGDrpSKSwVjimMK_iK0Jejpu8ILn77VEzHTdzQQ4/img.jpg?width=980" id="28411" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="8b8b602261a168a46b05c53e09ab1b02" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="man standing surrounded by garbage" />
India scores worst in all three categories, but to be fair – some of its problems were imported from more developed countries.
Famous physicists like Richard Feynman think 137 holds the answers to the Universe.
- The fine structure constant has mystified scientists since the 1800s.
- The number 1/137 might hold the clues to the Grand Unified Theory.
- Relativity, electromagnetism and quantum mechanics are unified by the number.
A study finds 1.8 billion trees and shrubs in the Sahara desert.
- AI analysis of satellite images sees trees and shrubs where human eyes can't.
- At the western edge of the Sahara is more significant vegetation than previously suspected.
- Machine learning trained to recognize trees completed the detailed study in hours.
Why this matters<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDU2MDQ1OC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzOTkyODg5NX0.O3S2DRTyAxh-JZqxGKj9KkC6ndZAloEh4hKhpcyeFDQ/img.jpg?width=980" id="3770d" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="3c27b79d4c0600fb6ebb82e650cabec0" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Area in which trees were located
Credit: University of Copenhagen<p>As important as trees are in fighting climate change, scientists need to know what trees there are, and where, and the study's finding represents a significant addition to the global tree inventory.</p><p>The vegetation Brandt and his colleagues have identified is in the Western Sahara, a region of about 1.3 million square kilometers that includes the desert, <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sahel" target="_blank">the Sahel</a>, and the <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/agricultural-and-biological-sciences/subhumid-zones" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">sub-humid zones</a> of West Africa.</p><p>These trees and shrubs have been left out of previous tabulations of carbon-processing worldwide forests. Says Brandt, "Trees outside of forested areas are usually not included in climate models, and we know very little about their carbon stocks. They are basically a white spot on maps and an unknown component in the global carbon cycle."</p><p>In addition to being valuable climate-change information, the research can help facilitate strategic development of the region in which the vegetation grows due to a greater understanding of local ecosystems.</p>
Trained for trees<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDU2MDQ3MC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzNTk5NTI3NH0.fR-n1I2DHBIRPLvXv4g0PVM8ciZwSLWorBUUw2wc-Vk/img.jpg?width=980" id="e02c0" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="79955b13661dca8b6e19007935129af1" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Credit: Martin Brandt/University of Copenhagen<p>There's been an assumption that there's hardly enough vegetation outside of forested areas to be worth counting in areas such as this one. As a result the study represents the first time a significant number of trees — likely in the hundreds of millions when shrubs are subtracted from the overall figure — have been catalogued in the drylands region.</p><p>Members of the university's Department of Computer Science trained a machine-learning module to recognize trees by feeding it thousands of pictures of them. This training left the AI be capable of spotting trees in the tiny details of satellite images supplied by NASA. The task took the AI just hours — it would take a human years to perform an equivalent analysis.</p><p>"This technology has enormous potential when it comes to documenting changes on a global scale and ultimately, in contributing towards global climate goals," says co-author Christian Igel. "It is a motivation for us to develop this type of beneficial artificial intelligence."</p><p>"Indeed," says Brandt says, "I think it marks the beginning of a new scientific era."</p>