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How I’m Able To Work A 4-Hour Workweek & You Can Too

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I don’t actually work only four hours a week, but I will describe how I have reached a point where I could work only four hours a week if I wanted to. And that, it seems to me, is enough good news to share in my column.

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The four-hour workweek concept was popularized by Tim Ferris, now a well-known writer with a franchise on four-hour things, including work, bodies and cheffing. He’s mastered the art of presenting himself as expert enough to write informatively and in an entertaining manner on all sorts of topics. He made his name, however, by arguing that you, yes, you, could make a good living working only four hours a week. How? Well, I’ll get there in a minute.

In my case (since this column is about my four-hour work week, after all, not Ferris’s), I’ve had a dream for a while to be my own boss and to be independent financially. I’ve always been a free thinker and a bit unconventional. I also realized that there is something about my personality that made it hard to get along with my bosses. Almost six years ago I decided to take a big risk and leave my last employer to strike out on my own. I had about a year’s savings and figured I’d give it a go for one year as an independent consultant and lawyer in the field of renewable energy policy and project development, a field I’d been in for about six years at that point.

That plan didn’t work out too well. At least not at first. My savings actually lasted about half a year and my first big client turned out to be a complete dud who didn’t pay me. I quickly began looking for full-time jobs again. Strangely, no full-time jobs materialized, despite many promising leads and interviews, and I was forced to make the consultancy work. The first few years were rough at times and I ended up having to foreclose on one of the two condos I owned in Santa Barbara. I, like a lot of people got caught up in the real estate bubble and I had bought two condos near the height of the bubble. A couple of years later, I ended up doing a short-sale on my second condo and returned to being a renter.

It wasn’t all bad, however: I really like my new rented digs, so do my friends, and I like not having the worry of a large mortgage over my head. (For some perspective, my second, fairly modest, two-bedroom condo cost $680,000, which required a hefty mortgage payment).

tambookTurning adversity into advantage is a key theme in my life, learned the hard way. I lost a major client in the middle of 2013 and was compelled to start doing a lot more marketing and also to build a financial foundation that was more solid than my previous attempts. My increased marketing paid off and I enjoyed more interest from clients after they read articles I wrote for industry press websites (GreenTechMedia.com, RenewableEnergyWorld.com, etc). I also read, finally, Ferris’s book The Four-Hour Work Week and I was re-inspired to shoot for this goal.

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In thinking about financial independence, I realized that I could buy land and a decent home on the Big Island of Hawaii quite affordably. I plan to keep Santa Barbara as my home, and I have deep roots here after living here for 13 years, but I have had another love affair with Hawaii since being stationed in the Army on Oahu in the early 1990s. Can one have a love affair with two different places? Clearly, I can, since I am in love with both Santa Barbara and the Big Island of Hawaii (the Hilo side, in particular, which is rainy, warm, lush, wild, and bursting with creativity and spirituality).

After experiencing the uncertainty that comes with losing a major client, I decided I needed to find a place that I could own free and clear and that could be my fallback plan if everything went to hell in my career or in the world more generally. I ended up buying three acres of land near Hilo, Hawaii, with a small cabin that was in very bad shape. I retrofitted the cabin during an extended (and wonderful) stay in Hawaii early last year, with a lot of help from local builders. I am now the proud owner of a highly liveable off-grid “tiny home” in Hawaii with plenty of land to farm on and play with.

When I wrote above that I could work just four hours a week, I was referring to a life I could live in Hawaii in my little off-grid home. The home has a water catchment system, solar panels and batteries, and a rainwater-fed flushing toilet in the cutest outhouse you may have ever seen. I could theoretically grow all or almost all of my own food on my land, get all of my water from rain and all of my power from the sun. My expenses to live in this house are, accordingly, very minimal. There’s even a decent hospital nearby and a very good hospital in Honolulu for major issues.

Adding in the costs of owning a car, health care, cell phone and Internet access, as well as travel, food, etc., I’d need to work a few hours a week to make ends meet.

In sum, I could live very well working just a few hours a week if I wanted to. The rest of the time I could devote to writing, music, photography, film-making and generally having fun. That’s a pretty tempting life, but I’m not ready to call my current career quits just yet. I began my career in the renewable energy field because I feel passionately that we need to transition quickly away from fossil fuels. While we’re making great progress in the U.S. and around the world, we’ve got a long way to go still. I want to be part of this ongoing transition, so I’ll keep doing what I’m doing for a while yet.

Ferris likes to present easily digestible lessons in his books, so let me offer a few ideas for how you too, if you wanted to, could reach the point where you could effectively retire early. I’ll suggest three points:

  1. Establish a goal and stick to it
  2. Focus as much on the freedom to be poor as the freedom that comes from wealth
  3. Enjoy the ride

Establish A Goal & Stick To It

Looking back on what has allowed me to achieve what I have thus far, it seems that the ability to stick with a particular goal and work hard toward that goal is key. In my case, it was deciding to continue with my education through finishing law school and all the knowledge that this educational path entailed that was crucial to getting to where I am. As a lawyer I can charge relatively high hourly rates that are justified by the value I provide to my clients. If the goal is to work as little as possible, charging decent hourly rates helps! Getting a good education and specializing in a field that enjoys high demand would make sense for anyone pursuing the dream of a four-hour workweek.

The Freedom To Be Poor

Most discussions about financial freedom focus on socking away enough investments and passive income sources to allow you to live the lifestyle you want and not worry about financial issues. That’s a fine goal and one I still generally strive toward. There is a different option, however, and that is working toward a lifestyle that simply doesn’t require much money to live. This is what I mean by the freedom to be poor.

My little house and my imagined life in Hawaii would allow me to be poor if I wanted to. I’m by no means wealthy now, but I make a decent living and I have reasonable aspirations of one day building a nice home in Santa Barbara, perhaps up in the hills with oak trees for shade. It’s likely that if I stay on the path I am currently on that I’ll reach that goal within five to ten years. I worry, though, that if I do go down that road that I’ll be locked in to a relatively wealthy lifestyle in perpetuity because owning a home is an ongoing expensive endeavor. Mortgage, insurance, utilities, gardening, and many other expenses can quickly add up to a pretty hefty total. Even when a mortgage is paid off a large home can still be quite expensive.

I remain torn about the relative benefits of a modest lifestyle in a small off-grid home and the luxuries and benefits of a larger far more expensive home and the income requirements that entails. For now, I can let that decision remain in limbo but I do want to suggest here that there are many benefits that come from the freedom to be poor. If one’s expenses are very low this of course frees up a lot of time to pursue non-pecuniary interests. That value should not be neglected.

Enjoy The Ride

It goes without saying, but I’m going to say it anyway, that it’s crucial to enjoy the ride no matter where it takes you. The point in talking about financial freedom and four-hour workweeks is to reach a place where you and your loved ones can enjoy life without all the normal stresses and worries. But what if you figured out how to enjoy life now despite all the normal stresses and worries that almost all of us do experience? That’s a powerful tool to have in your back pocket, so I hope that Ferris’s next book will be The Four-Hour Enlightenment or some similar title. Learning how to be happy in the present moment makes the questions of financial freedom and worries a lot less pressing.

There is a caveat or two—isn’t there always? I do plan to have a family someday and families ain’t cheap. Raising a family in jungly Hawaii sounds fun but even then it’s unlikely to be that cheap. Multiply that cost significantly to raise a family in Santa Barbara and the worries also multiply. Add in the possibility of traveling back and forth from Santa Barbara and Hawaii and we get additional stresses. I’ll cross those bridges when I get to them but my point is that even the best laid four-hour work week plans will surely go awry at times. It’s good to remain flexible.

It remains a great benefit for my peace of mind to know that I could live on very minimal income, and live quite well, if I chose to do so. For now, I’ll continue to “suffer” in Santa Barbara working (gasp) forty or so hours a week on my day job doing what I can to help accelerate the transition away from fossil fuels.

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Awareness

My 400 Days Without Candy & What I Learned About Sugar Addiction

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At the end of 2017 I decided to temporarily say goodbye to my dietary Achilles heel.

While I’m certainly not suggesting that I am some beacon of ideal healthy eating, I have always been someone who, for the most part, makes what I’ve found to be healthy choices. Except for my one glaring weakness… candy.

In particular, the really sour and heavily sugar coated kind, but you’d be hard pressed to find me turning down even those better classified as sweet, with all of their sugar fused within the confines of the chew. Cherry Blasters, Sour Patch Kids, Fuzzy Peaches, Sour Punch Straws, you name it, I ate it, and usually with a big smile on my face.

But no matter how much my tastebuds loved this stuff, I’ve always known that it’s not good for me (I can’t imagine that there is anyone out there who actually thinks it is), so I decided to listen to my body, just as I had already done with a number of my other dietary changes. I opted to no longer ignore the stomach and headaches that would often come shortly after my sugary indulgences and give it up.

What started as a one month challenge quickly evolved into a three month challenge, followed by a one year challenge, and then a 400 day challenge simply because I liked the sound of the number. Here’s some of what I learned from this journey:

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The First Days Are Undeniably The Hardest

The old adage that it takes approximately 21 days to break a bad habit or make a new one in this case certainly held true. It was right around the 3 week point that I started to find myself far less tempted and far less frequently on the search for something to satisfy my sweet tooth. And believe it or not, the longer I went on, the less appealing the idea of eating candy became. It almost felt as if the memory in my tastebuds that had controlled so many of my past decisions had gradually faded away.

Mindset Is Everything

While I will fully admit that my quest to 400 was helped by it naturally feeding into another one of my “addictions” (a great joy in setting records and tracking analytics), I found that so much of the temptation to consume these sugary, salty and greasy foods really was incredibly temporary. Challenge yourself to at least not let it win once and you’ll likely see just how quickly its strength can fade.

It Paid Dividends

While I didn’t completely cut sugar out of my diet, as many people have so admirably done and documented about, I can say that cutting back even as much as I did felt really good for me. Some may be quick to chalk it up to the placebo effect, and understandably so, but I can honestly say that the above mentioned stomach and head aches occurred far less often over the 400 day span.

Real-Time Analysis: After The First Bite

Having now officially consumed my first piece of candy since 2017, believe it or not, it tastes different. Is it still tasty and did it satisfy me at some level? Absolutely. But it also tastes way more sugary and foreign to my body than it once did. It’s as if my body really wanted to make it clear by saying, “are you sure you want to bring this stuff back into the picture?”

Side Note: For those that are curious, since it’s the most common question I’ve been asked since embarking on this journey, the candy I chose to eat as my first piece was a Vegan Wild Cherry Belt by Squish Candies. (And no I’m not getting paid to brand-drop, and no I don’t make any commission should you choose to buy any at that link… unfortunately LOL).

Where I Go From Here

While I don’t see myself going completely cold turkey on candy again, I also cannot see myself consuming it nearly as much as I once did. And I do so happily, not out of punishment. While I’m also certainly not qualified to be giving out dietary advice, I am comfortable challenging all of you to give up something you know to not be good for you. See how your body feels both without it and after you re-introduce it.


For more brutally honest personal development content designed for those who actually want to change be sure to subscribe to my YouTube Channel and to follow me on Instagram. And to receive my free eBook on 5 Simple Daily Hacks For A Genuinely Happier Life click HERE.

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Alternative News

Big News: Costco To Become First Major Retailer To Stop Selling Roundup Herbicide?

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    According to the non profit group Moms Across America, Costco is set to stop selling Roundup herbicide.

  • Reflect On:

    Despite the fact that harmful products continue to be approved across North America, the ultimate power to stop their use is us. When we become aware, we stop buying, and their profits drop. We are the ones that use it. Vote with your dollar.

It’s hard to even know where to start with the herbicide Roundup. Despite years of science exposing the inarguable health and environmental consequences of Roundup, federal health regulatory agencies in North America are still approving the herbicide, while multiple other countries have banned it and made its use illegal, citing various health and environmental concerns. Sri Lanka, for example, banned it five years ago due to its link to deadly kidney disease.

Furthermore, the countries approving it are doing so with massive amounts of corruption. These approvals come as a result of corrupt regulatory agencies here in Canada as well as the US, specifically the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The list of examples is very long when it comes to corruption and government connections to corporations like Monsanto, the corporation that created and sells Roundup. This is the only way these products get approved. It’s not science, it’s simply because of lobbying efforts and shady politics.

“It is commonly believed that Roundup is among the safest pesticides… Despite its reputation, Roundup was by far the most toxic among the herbicides and insecticides tested. This inconsistency between scientific fact and industrial claim may be attributed to huge economic interests, which have been found to falsify health risk assessments and delay health policy decisions.” – R. Mesnage (et al., Biomed Research International, Volume 2014 (2014), article ID 179691)

The latest approvals of glyphosate, the main active ingredient in Roundup, came from within Canada as well as Europe.

EU regulators recently decided to relicense glyphosate, a decision that was based on an assessment plagiarized from industry reports. It’s quite backwards that, for years, health regulators have been relying on the scientific reports from the companies that manufacture these products instead of seeking out independent scientific studies.

A group of MEPs decided to commission an investigation into claims that Germany’s Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (bFr) copy-and-pasted tracts from Monsanto studies. You can read more about that here.

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In addition, Monsanto colluded with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to stifle cancer research that had any connection to their products.

The corruption is never-ending when it comes to the link between corporations and government agencies. In fact, only a few years ago, more than a dozen scientists from within the CDC put out an anonymous public statement detailing the influence corporations have on government policies. They were referred to as the Spider Papers.

Related CE Article: Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Explains How Big Pharma Completely Owns Congress

Costco

The corruption that plagues our federal regulatory agencies runs deep, and no matter how obvious the science becomes, like the dangers of Roundup, products that negatively impact our health seem to often get approved anyways. But something special on planet Earth is happening, and that’s massive awareness. We are finally starting to see through the veil that’s been blinding the masses in so many different areas within human life.

Sure, these products may continue to get approved, but we are the ones who are constantly choosing to do so. We don’t have to buy them, and that is why awareness is key.

Zen Honeycutt, the leader of Moms Across America, announced this week that Costco will not be selling the glyphosate-based weed killer Roundup Ready.

In a live video update posted on Facebook, Honeycutt stated that she received word that Costco was no longer selling Roundup or glyphosate-based herbicides.

While she’s allegedly not received any official word yet from Costco, she stated that she has talked to various people at the headquarters and regional offices confirming this news. This is huge news because, according to a 2015 article in National Geographic, Roundup is the second-best-selling herbicide in the U.S. for home lawn and garden use. Under a lucrative contract with Monsanto, Scotts Miracle-Gro owns the exclusive right to market Roundup in North America and much of Europe. Scotts distributes about $154 million worth (5.5 percent of the company’s total sales) of Roundup each year to retail giants including Amazon, Home Depot and Walmart.

So let’s hope it’s true.

I asked for an official statement and was told that usually, Costco does not issue press releases, etc discussing which items they have discontinued. Despite not hearing back from the Costco PR department, I decided to announce the information anyway. I told them that the 89,000 people who signed a petition to Costco, Home Depot, and Lowe’s deserved to have an answer. I knew that they would be happy to know that Costco was doing the right thing. – Honeycutt (source)

It’s weird how this is even a debate in some circles. This has been known for a very long time, and we’ve seen similar happenings with DDT in the past.

“Children today are sicker than they were a generation ago. From childhood cancers to autism, birth defects and asthma, a wide range of childhood diseases and disorders are on the rise. Our assessment of the latest science leaves little room for doubt; pesticides are one key driver of this sobering trend.” – October 2012 report by Pesticide Action Network North America (PANNA) (source)(source)

Glyphosate is really getting a bad name, as this new information regarding Costco is coming off the heels of some bad press for Monsanto (Bayer) as the case regarding school groundskeeper Dewayne Johnson was the first lawsuit claiming that glyphosate causes cancer to go to trial. There are thousands upon thousands of similar pending cases. Any jury that reviews all of the scientific evidence will not be able to rule in favor of Monsanto, and Johnson’s case was a great example that showed glyphosate caused his cancer.

The Takeaway

At the end of the day, it’s us who decide to use these products. Obviously, we’ve been misled and made to trust our federal regulatory agencies who are supposedly in charge of protecting us from these harmful products. It’s the complete opposite, and what these agencies do is actually quite criminal. This is why conscious media is so important. The same powers that control these corporations have a tight grip on mainstream media as well.

This is why this issue goes largely ignored, and the fact that so many people rely on mainstream media for information about what’s really happening in the world with regards to health, environment, finance, politics, etc. is why a lot of people are still completely unaware of important issues. This is also why governments have started a war on ‘fake news,’ which seems to be a cover for protecting corporate and government interests.

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Alternative News

New Study Links Acetaminophen (Tylenol) To Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity

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Another damning study indicates it is simply time to pull the plug on this outdated drug.

The study just published in JAMA Pediatrics once again indicated that women who take acetaminophen during pregnancy are more likely to have a child with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The researchers also found that prenatal exposure to the medication was associated with a higher risk of having children who exhibit other emotional or behavioral symptoms.

Recent detailed analysis of clinical studies on acetaminophen (Tylenol) have concluded that this popular drug was ineffective for low back pain and provided no significant clinical relief of hip or knee osteoarthritis (OA) pain, while quadrupling the risk for liver damage.

All together, the results from all of these analyses further calls into question whether this drug should still be on the over-the-counter market or at all.

Background Data:

Acetaminophen is the only remaining member of the class of drugs known as “aniline analgesics” that is still on the market, as the rest were discontinued long ago. Acetaminophen only blocks the feelings of pain and reduces fever, it exerts no significant anti-inflammatory or therapeutic action.

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It is well-known that acetaminophen is very hard on the liver. About 40% of regular acetaminophen users show signs of liver damage. Acetaminophen reduces the liver’s store of the important detoxifying aid and antioxidant glutathione. When acetaminophen is combined with alcoholic drinks or other compounds toxic to the liver including other medications, its negative effects on the liver are multiplied. It should definitely not be used in anyone with impaired liver function and given the stress the liver experiences during pregnancy, it appears unwise to use it while carrying a child for both mother and the developing fetus.

Acetaminophen is often the drug of choice in children to relieve fever. However, use for fever in the first year of life is associated with an increase in the incidence of asthma and other allergic symptoms later in childhood. Asthma appears to be another disease process that is influenced greatly by antioxidant mechanisms. Acetaminophen severely depletes glutathione levels not only in the liver, but presumably other tissues as well, and should definitely not be used in people with asthma.

Each year acetaminophen causes over 100,000 calls to poison control centers; 50,000 emergency room visits, 26,000 hospitalizations, and more than 450 deaths from liver failure. In addition, regular use of acetaminophen is linked to a higher likelihood of Alzheimer’s disease, infertility, and hearing loss (especially in men under 50 years of age). Acetaminophen use during pregnancy has also been linked to the development of ADHD confirming animal studies showing acetaminophen use in pregnancy can disrupt normal brain development.

New Data:

To more closely assess the associations between maternal prenatal acetaminophen use and behavioral issues in their children, researchers in the United Kingdom collected and analyzed data 7,796 mothers along with their children. The data included acetaminophen use and behavioral assessments of the children were 7 years old. From this data the estimated risk ratios for behavioral problems in children after prenatal exposure to acetaminophen was determined.

The results showed that prenatal acetaminophen use at 18 and 32 weeks of pregnancy was associated with a 42% increased risk of the child having conduct problems and hyperactivity symptoms, while maternal acetaminophen use at 32 weeks was also associated with a 29% increased risk of the child having emotional symptoms and a 46% increase in total behavioral difficulties.

Obviously, the researchers concluded “Children exposed to acetaminophen prenatally are at increased risk of multiple behavioral difficulties, and the associations do not appear to be explained by unmeasured behavioral or social factors linked to acetaminophen use.”

Comment:

The results from this study and others are clear. Stay away from acetaminophen. Most people consider acetaminophen (e.g., Tylenol) as being an extremely safe pain reliever for both children and adults. The reality is that it can be extremely dangerous and causes significant side effects. The FDA has done a poor job alerting the public to the dangers of acetaminophen. In my opinion, it is a drug that serves no real medical purpose in the 21stcentury. Bottom line, it is time to pull it from the market.

As far as alternatives to acetaminophen during pregnancy, I would recommend ginger. Historically, the majority of complaints for which ginger (Zingiber officinale) was used concerned the gastrointestinal system as well as pain and inflammation. Several double-blind studies have shown ginger to yield positive results in a variety of gastrointestinal issues, especially those related to nausea and vomiting including severe morning sickness. In regards to pain and inflammation, dozens of clinical studies have supported this use with positive results in various forms of arthritis, chronic low back pain, muscle pain, and painful menstruation.

Ginger powder, ginger tea or a shot of fresh ginger juice added to any fresh fruit or vegetable juice is certainly a much better option to acetaminophen anytime, but especially during pregnancy.

My overall interpretation of the study is that depletion of glutathione caused by acetaminophen leaves cells, especially brain cells, susceptible to damage. I believe that future studies will not only show more evidence of a link to ADHD, but also autism as well. Glutathione is absolutely critical in protecting cellular function. Any factor that depletes glutathione is obviously going to alter proper development. In addition to acetaminophen, the following factors can deplete glutathione:

To boost your glutathione level it is important to focus on a diet rich in colorful fruits and vegetables. Their rich source of antioxidant phytochemicals and nutrients spare the use of glutathione and help to keep cellular levels high.

For additional related research use the following links: 


If you want to learn more from Greenmedinfo, sign up for their newsletter here


Reference

Stergiakouli E, Thapar A, Smith GD. Association of Acetaminophen Use During Pregnancy with Behavioral Problems in Childhood. Evidence Against Confounding. JAMA Pediatrics. Published online August 15, 2016. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2016.1775


Dr. Murray is one of the world’s leading authorities on natural medicine. He has published over 40 books featuring natural approaches to health. His research into the health benefits of proper nutrition is the foundation for a best-selling line of dietary supplements from Natural Factors, where he is Director of Product Development. He is a graduate, former faculty member, and serves on the Board of Regents of Bastyr University in Seattle, Washington. Please Click Here to receive a Free 5 Interview Collection from Dr Murray’s Natural Medicine Summit with the Top Leaders in the Field of Natural Medicine. Sign up for his newsletter and receive a free copy of his book on Stress, Anxiety and Insomnia.

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