Feeling Your Oats

More than one percent better
More than one percent better


The company I represent continues to surprise me in small but meaningful ways.

With my current night-time job, breakfast is a bit of a conundrum. I’m always hungry by the time I get home at around 8:00 am, but I’m also super-ready for bed. I just know that if I don’t have something to eat, I’ll wake up prematurely. That’s a recipe for disaster, because there’s no telling if I’ll ever get back to sleep. Sure, I can survive for a day or two on three or four hours in a twenty-four hour period, but it can get messy after that.

The evolution of my breakfast (in this job) went something like this:

  • Toast with peanut butter or jam

That became obsolete when I figured that all that sugar wasn’t good. So I moved on to:

  • Ramen noodles with some protein, for instance a little chicken or a chickpea patty, which was satisfying for a while, but quickly paled when I realized just how many calories are in those noodles.
  • Granola with milk was next, until I saw the amount of sugar in that stuff too, so that…
  • Whole Oats with Flax (from my company’s healthy food range) came to my rescue. This is easily the best choice, because it fills me up, without all the calories.

Here’s the important part: You’d think oats with flax would be a standard item. They’re not. Compared with regular, supermarket brands, our product has:

  • 66% more fiber
  • 25% more protein
  • 46% less sodium
  • 33% less sugar
  • more whole grains, and is an excellent source of ALA Omega-3, an important anti-oxidant.

I don’t like using the microwave, so I add a little boiling water from the kettle, a dash of milk after five minutes, and some fresh fruit (pineapple at the moment) for interest.

Okay, you say, it’s a better breakfast cereal, big deal. But let’s think of it this way. If you have breakfast at home five times a week, and you live for another forty years, that’s over 10,000 breakfasts. My point is that even a marginally better, less sugary, more nutritious breakfast will have an immense difference on your health when you add up the numbers.

The one-percent differences don’t look like much day-to-day, but they are unbelievably powerful over time.

Talking to a Stranger

Java skill, obtained
Java skill, obtained


It is true. Entering one’s sixth decade coincides with more thought of death. The rate of change towards our last breath remains the same, it merely seems faster. The fact is the same with or without the nuance; no matter how you think about it, death is closer that it was yesterday. Our time in this body is limited, and becoming more so.

The natural partner of our personal deathwatch is wonder at how to approach what’s left. I want to make each day count now, avoid dead-ends and pare back the fluff. Here, though, the paradox. Life consists of dead-ends and fluff. No sane individual expects their life to be one big highlight. Not every day can be a winner. The unspoken let-down of life is that it’s mostly about mowing the lawn and getting your hair cut. Steve Jobs didn’t invent the iPhone every day; you’re not going to either. In fact, I haven’t the time, I have to pick up my car after its oil change.

I reserve the right to change my thinking on this, but I think one big key to satisfaction in life is attaining competence in new things. Little things even. I’m lucky, I’ve seen more of the world than most people, and more of people than most people. People talk about the stuff that they’ve done right, that they know and like. They’ll tell you how they took an amazing underwater photograph, or learned how to sell insurance, or that they finally built the house of their dreams. In these and almost every other case I can think of, success at the new thing was the thing.

Squint close enough at this idea and you’ll see the whole history of our species. We’re not satisfied with stuff for long. The new, the challenge, the improved, the different, the what we don’t have gets us up in the morning. It’s the Jobs thing, but on a smaller scale. He made stuff that was new to all of us, but what’s new to us individually is quite good enough.

Although I need not say it I shall: Money won’t make you happy. It will make your misery more comfortable, for sure, and the theme of this blog is all about finding your way to financial independence. I want to make it clear that the ‘independence’ part is the important part. Two points about that. One, you cannot survive without money, but the less you have to do for it the more time you have for Two, the wonderful challenges at which you can succeed and be therefore fulfilled.

A better way of saying this might be that once you no longer need to spend your days grinding for money, it becomes less worthy of your attention. At that point life ceases to be about mowing your lawn and begins to be about learning how the German railway system works, or getting that guitar riff down or finding the nirvana of that yoga pose you enjoy most.

Namaste, independent achievers.