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3 years ago

How To Improve Yourself: Must Read Interview With Ludvig Sunstrom

how to improve yourself

How bad do you want to make a difference?

How bad do you want to improve yourself?

Because if you want to make a difference you have to learn how to improve yourself. No matter what path you take in life, it all comes down to how good you are. It’s all about your overall skills and personality traits.

Undoubtedly, continuous progress and self-improvement is a key success factor. If you want to achieve more you have to be more.

Today we have with us Ludvig Sunstrom, author of Breaking out of Homeostasis and owner of the practical self-development blog called “StartGainingMomentum“.

Read more to find out how to improve yourself and especially:

  • Why Self Education By Reading Books Is More Important Than Formal Education
  • What Matters Most When You Read Books If You Want To Get The Most Out Of Them
  • Tips To Maximize Your Productivity & Be Better At Managing Your Time
  • How SGM Helps You In Achieving All The Above
  • What’s The Deal With Ludvig’s Book “Break Out Of Homeostasis”?

So Ludvig,

Let’s do this!

Damian: Could you explain what StartGainingMomentum provides to its readers? How does someone become better by reading SGM ?

Ludvig: I write about the things I think are most important for becoming successful, leading a good life. . . often via insights related to psychology, self-development, and other disciplines.

As for becoming better, I hope reading SGM inspires people to:

  • Get a wider perspective on life, think long-term, and see the value in studying history.
  • Get their priorities straightened out for becoming more successful (pragmatism).
  • Go against the herd and become an independent, contrarian thinker.

Ultimately, I don’t think reading anything makes a person better by default. It’s all about seeing something useful, applying it, and organizing it into a system. Most people just read blogs to feel good about themselves. Obviously, those people will never be successful.

Damian: Do you believe that self-education by reading books is more useful for succeeding in life than formal education?

Ludvig: Yes—by far.

Formal education, today, is merely a prerequisite for getting started—whether that is pursuit of knowledge or a career. It’s sad how many people think they’re smart because they have a degree, a diploma, or something else.

All the smartest and best people are self-educated. You have to be, if you want to innovate yourself out of your situation and build something bigger.

The trick is to make reading your job, so that it becomes a synergistic process that adds value to everything you do; not something that takes time away from your job.

how to improve yourself with reading

Damian: I know you read a lot of books. What amount of books do you think that someone should read monthly or yearly to help him gain knowledge, become smarter and increase his chances to succeed in life?

Ludvig: I think it’s a very hard question to answer because:

  • There are different “learning types”. Some people learn better to doing, some to hearing, some by looking and taking notes, etc… Most people are a mix of these types (including myself). E.G Oskar Faarkrog is not much of a reader, but he is a doer.
  • There are many bad books. And 80 % of the skill in being a good reader, and someone who learns quickly, has to do with filtering out insignificant information. I go through lots of books, but most of them I just skim, because a) I already know the topic, b) it doesn’t seem useful to me right now, or c) it’s a worthless book (like Malcolm Gladwell’s books, for example).

It’s better to read one GREAT book than 10 crappy, mainstreams, one-idea books.

That being said, I’m a huge believer in reading and I think most people should read at least an hour per day. I typically read 3+ hours. Depending on book length, I typically finish 1-2 books per week.

Here’s narrowed-down selection of the best books I’ve read, and recommend everyone to read.

Damian: Writing for SGM, studying historical people, reading, exercising…How can you combine all these along with social life, family and other things that you possibly do? 24 hours don’t seem a lot when you are into lot of activities. Which is the best way to get the most out of our time?

Ludvig: I probably hang out with people less than the average person does. I’m busy. I will maybe socialize 1-2 times per week outside of business.

Here are some tricks to maximizing time and productivity:

  • Do things that scale. Create systems, automate things, delegate or outsource.
  • Combine as many things (goals) as possible into your daily activities.
  • Do business with cool people (combine business with pleasure).
  • Time-management: There are lots of tips for this, but the most important one are to plan your days and to simply eliminate or ignore B.S. Like Facebook or email.

Damian: Which are the most serious mistakes you have done in your life and how would you avoid them if you could go back in time?

Ludvig: Hmm. Here are two big ones:

  • Playing far too many video games. It would be hard to avoid, since I played incessantly from age 7-20. But if I could go back in time I would’ve quit earlier. Maybe when I was 16. I basically threw away my adolescence doing nothing productive.
  • Messing up my stomach digestion and getting candida. I would’ve not eaten so much sugar, gluten, and processed foods—and eaten more of what I eat today.

These seem like small things, because so many people do them, but they’re actually quite serious—given the compounded effect over many years. The stuff you do as a kid/teenager has an effect on you when you’re older, you just don’t notice it.

It’s very much like bank accounts with cumulative interests. It’s an exponential progress. You don’t notice it for a long time, and then it goes off the chart. Because of this nature of long, incremental change, most people fail to notice it, and don’t consider this.

Other than that, I have made relatively few major mistakes so far. This is probably why things are going well for me. I haven’t ever been in debt, made irrational financial decisions, or done any of the other dumb things most people do.

I am a big believer in prevention. It is better to foresee and avoid problems than to fix them. This is the #1 easiest way to become successful (at anything and everything) over the long-term. It’s so simple that most people don’t ever consider it.

Damian: I know that you are in the process of rewriting your book, Breaking out Of Homeostasis. Could you explain what is it about and how this book could help someone improve his life?

Ludvig:  Sure.

The premise of Breaking out of Homeostasis (BOOH) is basically this:

  • Success” as most people think of it today, in modern society, is an unnatural thing. This is because the 21st century world is so different from the environment we evolved for, as hunter-gatherers.
  • Most people are (by default) maladapted for becoming successful. 
  • This problem culminates in homeostasis—which is the body’s process for saving energy, avoiding fear, and staying the same. Fun fact: The human brain isn’t made for thinking; it’s made for maintaining homeostasis. The brain can think, and do all sorts of fancy stuff, but its #1 purpose is to maintain homeostasis.
  • Most people mistake intuition for homeostasis—and this is a big problem. Especially when there’s a popular myth in our society that intuition is the magic solution to success and happiness. “Just follow your heart”. This is bullshit and it will ruin your life if you don’t learn to distinguish between homeostasis and intuition.

Because of these things-and more-most people will never become smart, disciplined, or successful. They’re living their lives in reaction to homeostasis, and their unstated purpose is just to avoid responsibility, save energy, and not have to do any real thinking.

They are what I call Homeostasis Dwellers.

My book explains all this in detail, and gives practical tips for how to overcome most challenges that homeostasis presents. It’s a comprehensive philosophy of life, with guidelines for how to live your life according to certain principles which help you break out of homeostasis.

The book is ca 450 pages right now, and should be published some time before 2016. Probably toward the end of the year, given that I am not working on it full-time currently.

Take Home Messages From Ludvig’s Interview

1.Reading isn’t enough if you don’t apply the knowledge you have earned. You have to learn and then take action.

2.Having a degree doesn’t guarantee success. If you want to make a difference and innovate you need to educate yourself on your own. And read a lot of books.

3.If you want to be smarter than the rest – and wealthier or more successful – then devote at least one hour per day to read.

4. Avoid too much sugar, gluten and processed foods since these might lead to serious health problems like Candida.

5. If you still a teenager then don’t waste your time in unproductive activities like video games. Try to minimize the time you spend on them and focus on something that will improve yourself.

What do you think that it takes to improve yourself? 

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