I was listening to James Altucher’s podcast with Nassim Taleb from 2014 again recently… trying to pick up anything he had to say about applying antifragility to one’s personal life. I founds a few good nuggets in there about what he does in his own life and added some of my own thoughts.
- Walk as much as you can, preferably on uneven surfaces. Nassim loves to take walks. He mentions this in his books and other interviews. Usually he talks about strolling as opposed to hiking or walking for exercise, but in this interview he says he likes to walk on rocky surfaces because the variability forces his body and brain to adjust. The first time, he says, “… I broke my nose, but after that I adjusted…” Personally, I like walking on the beach whenever possible. It has a similar effect, and is less dangerous to my face.
- Drink the local water when traveling. When he goes to a foreign country he always like to at least drink a little bit of the water. This he says, is both for “ethical reasons” and antifragile ones. The theory is if you are only drinking bottled water your whole life, that one time you do take in other water, by necessity or accident, you might get violently ill. I suppose this is a bit like getting a vaccine.
- Get a tan. I’ve argued for this for years now, even as sun phobia has gotten greater and greater. Sunshine has lots of benefits, from Vitamin D creation, which is super important to our health and immune system to lower heart disease risk, to increased mood. Of course, you can overdo it. But you can over do anything. As Nassim says, if you’re of Irish decent and living in Ireland, you’re probably okay. If you move to Palm Springs, California, then you may want to dial it back a bit.
- Eat a variety of foods. Similar to drinking the local water, eating a variety of foods exposes us to more nutritional benefits, tastes that we never new existed, and keeps us from getting too fragile from eating the same type of food — even if the food is good for you. My mother was in a health food store a while back, and struck up a conversation with another customer. “My goal in life”, she said, ” is to one day be able to survive on nothing but wheat grass”. Can you imagine, not only how boring this would be, but what would happen the one time, years later, when she gets exposed to a piece of bacon or something? When my kids were very small I made sure I allowed them to have a little peanut butter, honey, shellfish, etc. All the things you’re not supposed to have before age 1.