How to Change the World in 2 Hours

I almost killed a guy yesterday.

Well, not really. But I thought about it.

It was just one of the numerous negative thoughts boiling in my head as I was driving around. Running on just five hours of sleep, I was truly the worst version of myself. That’s when I realized:

How many of us are out and about in the world–sleep deprived, groggy, improperly fed–interacting as a shitty version of ourselves?

Let me explain.

After I caught myself contemplating running over that dude (To be fair, it was a biker on a narrow, winding road–How dare he?), I finished up my errands and went to the gym.

Despite wanting to just go home and lay down, I dragged myself through an intense workout. Without fail, I walked out feeling almost high with endorphins. There was a smile on my big, dumb face and as cheesy as it sounds…I felt like myself again.

It was as if I woke up from the Matrix. The thought of bringing harm to another person (even one of those damn bikers) was anathema. When I stopped by the store for a protein bar, I had this incessant urge to compliment people through my mask. I said I liked this dude’s Red Hot Chili Peppers shirt. He and his wife laughed. He said, “Ah, thanks man!”

I tell this story to highlight two key things:

1) I don’t care how many times you’ve heard it before. Every single one of us needs to get good sleep and exercise regularly.

I understand people’s frustration in having this preached at them. These are two simple practices, but they require a series of difficult habit-changes. It’s not as simple as: “I’ll just get better sleep,” or, “I’ll start exercising regularly.”

If it were that easy, we’d all be the best versions of ourselves.

The hardest part of doing either of these is getting over what I call the habit void.

When you’re trying to do something that’s good for you, the habit void is the uncomfortable stretch of time where it just sucks and you’re seeing zero benefit.

The first month at the gym is sweaty, insecure, and exhausting. Once over the habit void, the sixth month at the gym is fluid, exciting, and energizing.

The first week of going to bed earlier is restless, frustrating, and stressful. Once over the habit void, the fourth week of going to bed earlier is relaxing, peaceful, and fueling.

We can justify and make excuses all we want. Whether you like it or not, sleep and exercise are two things you absolutely need. You may see them as asshole-acquaintances. The best solution is to make them your best friends.

Which brings me to #2.

2) If each of us (or at least most of us) got great sleep and regularly exercised, how much better off would the world be?

I know that sounds grandiose. Hear me out.

If another hour of sleep or a single workout can transform me from cranky, easily-irritated, and judgmental…to peaceful, patient, and compassionate…what the hell would society look like if we all took doses of these healthy practices?

I don’t think we’d all hold hands and sing Kumbaya (especially during a pandemic). But I do believe we’d feel a greater sense of community, connection, and genuine care toward one another.

We would feel better. We would be more confident. We would be happier.

These are NOT small things. They bring with them a snowball effect of countless other positive features.

We would be more efficient. We would be more willing to help others. We would be more present.

Maybe this is all a pipe dream. But I don’t think so. We’ll never get everybody to do the things they need to do.

But we can control what we do and make it more accessible and appealing to others. At the very least, we can experience the benefits of healthy practices ourselves and use them to brighten someone’s day.

Even if it’s just one dude and his Red Hot Chili Peppers t-shirt…