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The Golden Hour

The Golden Hour

By OptimalWork

Hosted by Dr. Kevin Majeres and Sharif Younes, co-founders of OptimalWork, The Golden Hour will help you learn to challenge yourself in each hour of work according to your highest ideals. We'll discuss all aspects of Dr. Majeres's approach to work, which he developed in his private practice and teaches at Harvard Medical School, and show how it applies to everyday situations like professional work, study, sleep, and relationships.

For a set of online tools to help you put the ideas into practice, visit www.OptimalWork.com.

Please send questions for discussion to info@optimalwork.com.
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119. How Work Can Help You Integrate Conflicting Parts of Yourself
119. How Work Can Help You Integrate Conflicting Parts of Yourself
#119: This episode is a deep dive into the relationship between Internal Family Systems (IFS), a growing method of psychotherapy, and OptimalWork. We can view friction in life as different parts of us locked in conflict, ultimately seeking to avoid a painful emotion. Through work — and the practice of reframing, mindfulness, and challenge — we can learn to redirect the energy that powers these parts to work for us. Find more at https://www.OptimalWork.com.
33:23
November 28, 2022
118. An Unconventional Way to Stop Wasting Time
118. An Unconventional Way to Stop Wasting Time
#118: If you think you waste too much time—for example, on social media, internet, and entertainment—there is likely some part of you that is urging you to do better. In this episode, we show how to redirect the energy of these different “parts” of you—the one seeking entertainment, and the one criticizing your time wasting—in order to integrate them and achieve inner harmony. Find more at https://www.OptimalWork.com.
30:36
November 21, 2022
117. Should You Expect Fulfillment from Your Career?
117. Should You Expect Fulfillment from Your Career?
#117: What is the appropriate attitude toward your career? At one extreme, some treat it as merely a way of getting a paycheck. At the other, some place all hopes for fulfillment in life in their career. In this episode, we discuss how to approach your career in a way that brings out the best in you, but doesn’t make an idol of success. We want to give credit to Terry Trespicio, whose excellent Ted Talk "Stop searching for your passion" was the source of a number of ideas discussed in this episode. You can find it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6MBaFL7sCb8&ab_channel=TEDxTalks. Find more at https://www.OptimalWork.com.
28:01
November 14, 2022
116. How to Understand Your Strengths and Weaknesses and Keep a Growth Mindset
116. How to Understand Your Strengths and Weaknesses and Keep a Growth Mindset
#116: In the world of work, many counsel that you should build on your strengths and depend on others to shore up your weaknesses. Is this prudent advice, or just another version of fixed mindset? In this episode, we discuss the evaluation of strengths and weaknesses, and what practical conclusions to draw from this type of analysis. Find more at https://www.OptimalWork.com.
28:57
November 07, 2022
115. How Scary Movies Are the Key to Overcoming Anxiety
115. How Scary Movies Are the Key to Overcoming Anxiety
#115: In this episode, we discuss how scary movies can give you all the practice you need in accepting anxiety. Watching scary movies may be the easiest way to learn to turn fear into excitement and enjoyment. Find more at https://www.OptimalWork.com.
25:12
October 31, 2022
114. Helping Others Become Givers Instead of Takers
114. Helping Others Become Givers Instead of Takers
#114: Last episode, we discussed the framework of givers and takers developed by Adam Grant. Surprisingly, givers tend to cluster at the bottom and the top of organizations, while takers occupy the middle. In this episode, we discuss how to be a successful giver: through flexibility and bringing out the best in others. A successful giver helps those around him or her become givers too. Find more at https://www.OptimalWork.com.
28:14
October 24, 2022
113. How to Be a Generous Giver and Still Thrive
113. How to Be a Generous Giver and Still Thrive
#113: We often emphasize generosity as a crowning ideal: a key character quality to strive for. But this raises some questions. Should you just give everything to everyone? What are the limits? What if people start to take advantage of your generosity? In this episode, we discuss how to set boundaries that will help you maximize your generosity by making it sustainable. Find more at https://www.OptimalWork.com.
27:46
October 17, 2022
112. Discover the Deepest Source of Optimism
112. Discover the Deepest Source of Optimism
#112: Optimism is a belief that things will improve in the future. Sometimes it doesn’t always seem that way. As we struggle to improve, we may get discouraged and think that things will always be difficult. However, the science of habits and habituation teaches us that as we challenge ourselves, things do in fact get easier and more enjoyable as our body adjusts to the new behaviors. Find more at https://www.OptimalWork.com.
27:29
October 10, 2022
111. Why You Should Aim for Silver Instead of Gold
111. Why You Should Aim for Silver Instead of Gold
#111: You may have a goal of achieving a high level of performance with no difficulty, no inner turmoil whatsoever. In this episode, Dr. Kevin Majeres and Sharif discuss approaching challenges in a different way: not aiming for effortless success, but rather for acceptance of difficulty and perseverance — what Dr. Majeres calls aiming for silver, rather than gold. Find more at https://www.OptimalWork.com.
25:19
October 03, 2022
110. How to Work Intensely without Stressing Yourself Out
110. How to Work Intensely without Stressing Yourself Out
#110: Many people think that they and others work best under extreme external pressure: impending deadlines, demanding bosses, etc. In this episode, Dr. Kevin Majeres and Sharif Younes discuss better ways to achieve intensity. Find more at https://www.OptimalWork.com.
28:20
September 26, 2022
109. Loving Yourself in Order to Love Others
109. Loving Yourself in Order to Love Others
#109: Is self-love always selfish? In this episode, Dr. Kevin Majeres and Rashad Badr discuss why true self-love is actually a necessary step for being able to love others. Find more at https://www.OptimalWork.com.
25:24
September 19, 2022
108. What You Can Do about Narcissism
108. What You Can Do about Narcissism
#108: Join Dr. Kevin Majeres and Rashad Badr for a discussion on narcissism, an attachment to one's self-image, and how to attain true self-knowledge through humility. Find more at https://www.OptimalWork.com.
30:11
September 12, 2022
107. A Summer to Remember
107. A Summer to Remember
#107: Do you think you have a bad memory? Do you think summer goes by too fast? It turns out, there’s one solution for both problems. In this episode, we discuss strategies that can both improve your memory and enrich your experiences, which can apply to making your summer more fruitful and making it seem longer. Find more at https://www.OptimalWork.com.
29:34
May 30, 2022
106. Challenging Anxiety
106. Challenging Anxiety
#106: Do you have any anxiety that you feel might be holding you back? In fact, anxiety is like a forge that you can use to shape yourself according to your highest ideals. In this episode, we show you how to find the challenge at the root of your anxiety and engage it as a unique opportunity. Find more at https://www.OptimalWork.com.
29:06
May 23, 2022
105. Choose Flow, Not Hyperfocus
105. Choose Flow, Not Hyperfocus
#105: Have you ever worked with great intensity and lost track of time, only to realize later that it was all a waste? You had fallen for the trap of hyperfocus. In this episode, we’ll distinguish between hyperfocus and true flow, and show you how to always attain the latter. Find more at https://www.OptimalWork.com.
28:48
May 16, 2022
104. The Mindfulness Paradox
104. The Mindfulness Paradox
#104: Does mindfulness present a paradox between self-referential thoughts and the ability to focus intensely on our work? Does mindfulness lead us to be overly focused on ourselves or lead us to forget ourselves? Can it help us to deal with a frenetic workplace? The answer to this seeming paradox and these questions gives a clear insight into OptimalWork’s theory and measure of growth. Find more at https://www.OptimalWork.com.
26:26
May 09, 2022
103. Making Wise Use of Small Blocks of Time
103. Making Wise Use of Small Blocks of Time
#103: Do you ever find that you don’t have enough time to accomplish all the things you’d like to? Small blocks of time may seem inconsequential, but they add up. Making wise use of these blocks can increase your productivity by 20% — the difference between getting ahead and falling behind. How to do it? That’s the topic of today’s episode. Find more at https://www.OptimalWork.com.
26:48
May 02, 2022
102. How to Process Negative Feedback
102. How to Process Negative Feedback
#102: Negative feedback is a part of life. It’s also essential in helping us identify our biggest opportunities for growth. In this episode, we discuss how to give and receive negative feedback and the role it plays in the social dimension of growth. Find more at https://www.OptimalWork.com.
31:35
April 25, 2022
101. Can Complaining Be a Good Thing?
101. Can Complaining Be a Good Thing?
#101: Reframing means seeing the opportunity in any challenge. But is that always a good thing? Is it possible that reframing could make us more likely to put up with bad situations? In this episode we’ll address this possible objection to reframing. Find more at https://www.OptimalWork.com.
29:07
April 18, 2022
100. How to Master Your Memory
100. How to Master Your Memory
#100: You may think that memory is a fixed trait: sure, some people may have a great memory, but yours is not so good. Well, the great masters of learning didn’t rely on natural talent — they all used strategies and techniques to memorize important texts, ideas, and arguments. In this episode, we discuss how they did it, so that you can learn to as well. Find more at https://www.OptimalWork.com.
39:06
April 11, 2022
99. The Hidden Power of Study
99. The Hidden Power of Study
#99: We often put off big challenges — a large project, a different career path, a new hobby, etc. — because we don’t know how precisely to get started. Well, there’s a virtue for that! Study: the keen application of your mind to its proper object. In this episode, we discuss how to fruitfully engage challenges — new and old — with study. Find more at https://www.OptimalWork.com.
29:27
April 04, 2022
98. How Competition Can Bring Out Your Best
98. How Competition Can Bring Out Your Best
#98: Is competition a good motivating force? Why are some people more competitive than others? Is being competitive a virtue or a vice, and can it be compatible with living a life of high ideals? These questions and more in today’s episode. Find more at https://www.OptimalWork.com.
26:07
March 28, 2022
97. How Conflict Can Strengthen Bonds
97. How Conflict Can Strengthen Bonds
#97: When facing a conflict with someone close to us, our instinctive reaction can be one of rigidity, a desire to achieve a particular outcome, or even to fight. When this happens, our approach will harm the bond. In this episode, we show how to approach conflict with creativity, flexibility, and understanding, so that the source of the conflict can be an occasion for deepening the bond. Find more at https://www.OptimalWork.com.
29:52
March 21, 2022
96. How to Face Imposter Syndrome
96. How to Face Imposter Syndrome
#96: More and more people report experiencing “imposter syndrome,” often in new and challenging social or professional situations. They are unable to internalize their own success, attributing it instead to external factors like chance or luck; as a result, they often see themselves as “frauds.” In this episode, we introduce a solution to imposter syndrome that gives us independence from the validation and judgements of others. Find more at https://www.OptimalWork.com.
24:45
March 14, 2022
95. How to Love Frustration
95. How to Love Frustration
#95: If you’re often frustrated, you may think you need more of the opposite: more satisfaction. In this episode, we discuss how frustration is actually related to failed strategies. Each experience of frustration then points out an opportunity to employ better strategies and pursue more meaningful goals. Find more at https://www.OptimalWork.com.
31:04
March 07, 2022
94. Turn Problems into Projects
94. Turn Problems into Projects
#94: If there’s an area in your life where you want to grow, it can be difficult to know how to make progress. In this episode, we discuss how to get started by formulating strategies and steps, that is, by applying prudence to the question of how to grow. Find more at https://www.OptimalWork.com.
31:28
February 28, 2022
93. Scott Adams's Take on Reframing
93. Scott Adams's Take on Reframing
#93: Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert, recently released a video called, “A Micro Lesson on Reframing Stress and Anxiety” (https://youtu.be/L77bItYsT0c). In this episode, we’ll discuss some of his proposed methods of reframing, comparing his common-sense approach to reframing to ours. Find more at https://www.OptimalWork.com.
27:56
February 21, 2022
92. How to Stop Being So Hard on Yourself
92. How to Stop Being So Hard on Yourself
#92: We’ve often spoken about the importance of maintaining a cheerful tone around us. But sometimes people find that inwardly they are very harsh and demanding with themselves. In this episode, we’ll discuss how to aim for the ideal of cheerfulness, but interiorly: with ourselves, our thoughts, and our emotions. Find more at https://www.OptimalWork.com.
25:52
February 14, 2022
91. Boost Your Sleep Skills
91. Boost Your Sleep Skills
#91: A lot of people have heard about the practices of sleep hygiene, and are using them, but still struggle to achieve sleep. It may seem like sleep is something that either happens effortlessly or not at all. Recent research, however, suggests that falling asleep is a skill that can be learned. Find more at https://www.OptimalWork.com.
30:50
February 07, 2022
90. The Deadline Benefit
90. The Deadline Benefit
#90: Do you ever find yourself working with low intensity, without a clear purpose? If so, the solution may be the introduction of deadlines throughout your day. Deadlines will dramatically boost every aspect of your work, and they can even improve your sleep! Find more at https://www.OptimalWork.com.
25:15
January 31, 2022
89. Back to Basics: An Intro to OptimalWork
89. Back to Basics: An Intro to OptimalWork
#89: Are you new to OptimalWork? Have you started listening to the Golden Hour in the last year? Join us as we go back to the basics in this episode and discuss OptimalWork’s history, it’s mission, and how we help people get started on a path to self-mastery. Find more at https://www.OptimalWork.com.
33:16
January 24, 2022
88. The Value of Psychological Flexibility
88. The Value of Psychological Flexibility
#88: Have you ever wondered whether you would be able to sustain a new habit over a long period of time? Have you ever felt an initial peak of optimism give way to a valley of despair? Join us as we discuss why this happens to some people, how this relates to a concept called psychological flexibility, and how to stay grounded during challenging times. Find more at https://www.OptimalWork.com.
27:58
January 17, 2022
87. A Deeper Dive into Challenge
87. A Deeper Dive into Challenge
#87: The goal of OptimalWork is to help people challenge themselves according to their highest ideals in each task. In this episode, we dive deeper into this core concept, showing how challenge is the surest path to growth. Find more at https://www.OptimalWork.com.
32:22
January 10, 2022
86. How to Broadcast Positive Emotions
86. How to Broadcast Positive Emotions
#86: Whether we’re aware of it or not, we’re always broadcasting our own inner experience. By shaping our actions according to our ideals, we forget about ourselves and create a positive tone around us. In this episode, we’ll show you psychological strategies for how to do this. Find more at https://www.OptimalWork.com.
28:16
December 20, 2021
85. The Impact of Awe
85. The Impact of Awe
#85: One of the least-discussed emotions may be the most powerful in bringing about well-being. When was the last time you were filled with awe? People may think of awe as a nice-to-have emotion, but not needed for living a good life. Recent research, however, suggests that awe may be essential to true thriving.
29:10
December 13, 2021
84. Why You Need Essentialism
84. Why You Need Essentialism
#84: We live in a society where, more and more, people are managing themselves: making decisions about what projects they’ll take on and how they will prioritize and spend their time. Essentialism is a book and a philosophy about how to thrive in this challenge — and it’s the topic of today’s episode. Find more at https://www.OptimalWork.com.
27:41
December 06, 2021
83. Mindfulness at Work
83. Mindfulness at Work
#83: Is it true that there are some jobs that are incompatible with being mindful? Is it possible that a person can practice mindfulness, only to discover it does not work for them? In this episode, we’ll show how mindfulness can be profitably practiced anywhere, by any one.
31:13
November 29, 2021
82. How to Cultivate Gratitude
82. How to Cultivate Gratitude
#82: What, if anything, does OptimalWork have to say about reflecting on the past? How can we use gratitude to help us make sense of our lives and deepen our bonds with others? Join us as we discuss these and other questions.
28:24
November 22, 2021
81. A Tribute to Aaron Beck
81. A Tribute to Aaron Beck
#81: On November 1, 2021, the founder of cognitive therapy, Dr. Aaron T. Beck, passed away. Dr. Kevin Majeres trained with Dr. Beck and reflects on his significance, both for the field of psychology and for his own work.
30:31
November 15, 2021
80. How to Have Unlimited Reserves of Willpower
80. How to Have Unlimited Reserves of Willpower
#80: Could there be a link between ego depletion and the increase of depression in modern times? We think there could be. But it’s not ego depletion itself; rather, it’s the theory of ego depletion that may be causing it. In this episode, we discuss what ego depletion is thought to be, and why implicit belief in it does more harm than good.
30:34
November 08, 2021
79. How to Stop Feeling Overwhelmed
79. How to Stop Feeling Overwhelmed
#79: One of the consequences of living in threat mode is that you often feel overwhelmed. Your view of yourself and your situation becomes fixed, and you can lose your optimism. In this episode, we’ll show you how to regain a sense of possibility and freedom whenever you’re overwhelmed.
30:47
November 01, 2021
78. What’s Missing from Atomic Habits
78. What’s Missing from Atomic Habits
#78: Atomic Habits by James Clear is a recent best-seller that covers a lot of the same topics as OptimalWork. In this episode, we summarize its approach and theory and identify areas of common ground, as well as some shortcomings of the Atomic Habits approach. This helps to clarify how transformative OptimalWork’s approach really is.
28:48
October 25, 2021
77. Use Dopamine to Shape Habits
77. Use Dopamine to Shape Habits
#77: If you’re struggling to form better habits, we have two simple practices that will help you shape your own behavior. To understand these, we first dive into some new developments in the neuroscience of self-control.
30:26
October 18, 2021
76. Routine: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
76. Routine: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
#76: Having routines can help us make desirable behaviors second nature. But routine is a double-edged sword. By making behaviors automatic, routine can deplete them of meaning. Routine — the good, the bad, and the ugly — is the topic of today’s episode.
27:40
October 11, 2021
75. How to Win Over Your Inner Critic
75. How to Win Over Your Inner Critic
#75: Have you ever struggled with negative self-talk? Visualization can be a powerful tool in approaching your inner critic. Join us as we discuss how the use of imagery can turn OptimalWork’s theory of growth into a practical strategy for achieving psychological balance.
29:14
October 04, 2021
74. How to Have Deeper Conversations
74. How to Have Deeper Conversations
#74: Conversations can be a source of frustration, but they can also be the source of our deepest and most fulfilling joys. The bonds that we form with others are forged in large part through conversations. In this episode, we’ll talk about the key skill needed to have good conversations.
27:54
September 27, 2021
73. How to Maintain Intensity in Work
73. How to Maintain Intensity in Work
#73: If we want to focus more intensely on something, it could be easy to think we just have to try harder. But recent advances in neuroscience give us two alternate approaches, which we’ll be discussing in today’s episode.
27:18
September 20, 2021
72. Bringing Clarity to Brain Fog
72. Bringing Clarity to Brain Fog
#72: One of the most frequent reasons for people to see their doctor is to treat fatigue or brain fog. In this episode, we look into the causes of brain fog and the potential solutions.
28:23
September 13, 2021
71. Understanding Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
71. Understanding Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
#71: Maslow proposed his famous Hierarchy of Needs in 1943, and it remains a foundational idea in psychology. In this episode, we explore the deep consistency between Maslow’s understanding and OptimalWork’s approach, discussing reframing, mindfulness, challenge, and Maslow’s paradoxically selfless understanding of self-actualization.
22:24
September 06, 2021
70. Going Deeper into Your Why
70. Going Deeper into Your Why
#70: Cultivating a spirit of service lies at the heart of OptimalWork’s approach to work. Striving for a spirit of service ultimately means changing not just what we do and how we do things, but also why we do them. But how do we really assess and change something as intangible as the why behind what we do? This is the starting point for today’s discussion.
24:31
August 02, 2021
69. Deep Work and OptimalWork
69. Deep Work and OptimalWork
#69: What makes OptimalWork different from other productivity systems? What makes the Golden Hour different from any other period of focused work? And what is the difference between OptimalWork and Dr. Cal Newport’s highly popular Deep Work? These questions and more in today’s episode.
27:16
July 26, 2021
68. On the Importance of Ideals
68. On the Importance of Ideals
#68: We’ve often spoken about the importance of reframing challenges according to ideals. Inspired by questions, we’ve decided to revisit this topic, discussing ideals, what they are exactly, where they come from, and how to live them out in your life.
25:17
July 19, 2021
67. How to Read Sixty Books in a Year
67. How to Read Sixty Books in a Year
#67: Reading is the best example of a skill that we use on a daily basis, and that much depends on, and yet we seldom think of practicing or improving. We’ll discuss how reading fits into OptimalWork’s approach, how to improve at both your speed and comprehension, and, yes, how to read sixty books per year.
26:35
July 12, 2021
66. How to Dehypnotize Yourself
66. How to Dehypnotize Yourself
#66: Are you hypnotized right now? It might surprise you to learn that, in a technical sense, you very well may be. Understanding how trances work, the topic of today’s episode, will allow you to free your attention from the things that capture it.
28:07
July 05, 2021
65. Do You Need Deadlines to Feel Motivated?
65. Do You Need Deadlines to Feel Motivated?
#65: Do you think you need a deadline imposed on you in order to get focused and motivated? Ultimately this can mean letting emotions drive your behavior. The better path is to act according to ideals, which leads to you shaping your emotions over time.
27:30
June 28, 2021
64. How to Develop Emotional Intelligence
64. How to Develop Emotional Intelligence
#64: What is emotional intelligence? Can OptimalWork help in developing emotional intelligence? And what is the relationship between working at our best and developing a greater sensitivity for others? These questions and more in today's episode.
23:25
June 21, 2021
63. How to Thrive in Uncertainty
63. How to Thrive in Uncertainty
#63: Feeling uncertain can paralyze us. In those moments, we might seek reassurance from ourselves or others. In this episode, we discuss why you shouldn’t just seek certainty, and how these challenges provide the best opportunities for adventure and growth.
24:29
June 14, 2021
62. How to Help Others Grow
62. How to Help Others Grow
#62: How do you help others grow? How do you know when it’s the right time to help them grow? What’s the best way to pursue those conversations? This episode pursues these questions and others, so that you can thrive in any role in which others depend on you.
23:12
June 07, 2021
61. Sleep: A Skill You Can Learn
61. Sleep: A Skill You Can Learn
#61: Is the world divided between good sleepers and bad ones? Do poor sleepers simply have to be content with not sleeping well? In this episode, we’ll discuss the skills and ideals that can help you master sleep.
29:02
May 31, 2021
60. How to Develop Your Personality
60. How to Develop Your Personality
#60: Is personality something you can develop by working on it? What would it look like to grow your personality? In this episode, we’ll apply our theory of growth to this very tricky topic.
23:36
May 24, 2021
59. How Fasting Supercharges Focus
59. How Fasting Supercharges Focus
#59: We’ve all experienced times when we’re hungry and cranky and have a hard time focusing. But surprisingly, it doesn’t have to be that way. It can do the exact opposite. When you deliberately bring on hunger through fasting, your attention and cognition are supercharged.
24:48
May 17, 2021
58. How Reframing Can Replace Medication
58. How Reframing Can Replace Medication
#58: Just a few years ago, the CDC reported that 13% of Americans had taken anti-depressants in the last month. In this episode, we discuss the promises and pitfalls of these medications, and their relationship with OptimalWork’s approach of changing behaviors.
28:25
May 10, 2021
57. How to Rest so You Can Thrive in Work
57. How to Rest so You Can Thrive in Work
#57: How do you go about pursuing high ideals and forging relationships? You might immediately think of action, but also important is rest. In this episode, we look at the science of rest, showing how to rest well, so you can work more effectively and for higher ideals, stay energized, and forge deeper bonds with others.
26:34
May 03, 2021
56. The Silent Cure for Stress
56. The Silent Cure for Stress
#56: Stress is ubiquitous in these times, but it’s hard to know how to deal with it. Worrying is one response, but it can actually increase stress. So, what is stress, what causes it, and what can you do about it?
24:36
April 26, 2021
55. Bring More Flow Into Your Life
55. Bring More Flow Into Your Life
#55: Flow is something everyone experiences occasionally. Time flies by, you’re totally engaged, with no distractions at all. Is it possible to achieve it at will? Is it even good to aim for that? In this episode, we discuss the most helpful ways to think about flow.
25:02
April 19, 2021
54. Reframing When the Stakes Are High
54. Reframing When the Stakes Are High
#54: High stakes situations provide a unique challenge to the practice of reframing. How do we reframe failure, if we think that failure is not an option? This challenge gets to the heart of what reframing is, and how to do it.
27:44
April 12, 2021
53. Does Email Bring out Your Best?
53. Does Email Bring out Your Best?
#53: You might experience email as your worst nightmare — constantly interrupted, overwhelmed, unproductive. We’ll show you how to flip this around completely. We discuss strategies for managing your inbox and, more importantly, for crafting emails to make others’ lives easier. Improving the way you compose emails is a perfect opportunity to bring a spirit of service into your work.
25:37
April 05, 2021
52. Why Psychology Gets Baffled by Love
52. Why Psychology Gets Baffled by Love
#52: You might think that love and work have nothing to do with one another. In fact, work has a lot to learn from love, and love from work. In this episode, we explore the similarities between good work and love; how love can provide light and purpose to work; and how to “work” love to prevent it from growing cold.
25:39
March 29, 2021
51. Recovering from a Broken Streak
51. Recovering from a Broken Streak
#51: As you’re trying to develop new and better habits, there are some common obstacles you may run into — they might lead you to give up just when you’re on the cusp of great progress. In this episode, we discuss the most common reason people give up on new habits, and how to overcome it.
29:11
March 21, 2021
50. Making Decisions without Regret
50. Making Decisions without Regret
#50: Do you agonize over what to order at restaurants? Or struggle to make decisions that align with your highest ideals? The key to making a good decision is learning how to put your decision in the right context.
27:54
March 15, 2021
49. How to Learn to Love Anxiety
49. How to Learn to Love Anxiety
#49: You may think that anxiety is an inherent trait, something that cannot be changed, only managed. In fact, it’s a state of training — of a small region of your brain called the amygdala — and there are definite steps you can take, not just to overcome it, but actually to transform it into your best performance.
24:31
March 08, 2021
48. The Breath of Life
48. The Breath of Life
#48: What one practice can increase your energy and mental clarity, stop you from snoring, fix bad breath, and much much more? Transforming how you breathe has many surprising benefits. We discuss the best way to breathe, how to make the change, as well as some difficulties you might encounter along the way.
24:53
March 01, 2021
47. Getting to the Heart of OptimalWork
47. Getting to the Heart of OptimalWork
#47: You may think that the challenges in your life are there to stay, and all you can do is manage them or cope. When the challenges get bigger, you may feel overwhelmed by them. This episode covers the essence of OptimalWork, which is to take the challenging situation you are facing, and flip it to make the challenge happen within you. Instead of being challenged, you are then challenging yourself — and you’ll immediately experience new energy. The challenge you face is giving you a workout for your ideals. There are no limits to the growth you can realize by actively challenging yourself according to your highest ideals.
27:02
February 22, 2021
46. How to Build Confidence
46. How to Build Confidence
#46: Many people dream of being “confident” someday. When that day comes, they would have total certainty that they could attain any outcome they seek, without any anxiety at all. While it’s understandable that people want to work without uncertainty, this episode shows how “confidence” could actually mean that you are living on a plateau. Far better to aim instead for growth and your best performance and let confidence (or lack thereof) become simply irrelevant.
23:27
February 15, 2021
45. How to Raise your IQ
45. How to Raise your IQ
#45: You may think that your intelligence is fixed for your whole life. You may even think that this level is determined by an IQ test you took in the past. Happily, neither is true. There are definite practices you can start that will improve your ability to think — they will raise your IQ.
25:24
February 09, 2021
44. Finding your Daily Rhythm
44. Finding your Daily Rhythm
#44: When it comes to planning your day, there are two extremes: having no schedule at all, or having a rigid and constraining schedule. It is common to fall into one of these extremes, or perhaps go back-and-forth between them. Yet the most sustainable way of scheduling, the one that yields the tranquility of order, involves a personalized balance of non-negotiables and flexible work times. In this episode, Dr. Kevin Majeres and Sharif discuss how to get your schedule to work for you.
21:47
February 01, 2021
43. How to Make Things New
43. How to Make Things New
#43: Our brains naturally strive to maintain a predictable status quo. The upside of this is that we conserve energy and form habits. At the same time, it can lead to plateaus — in our skills, personal growth, and relationships. It can even cause our dealings with others to become rote, and we developed a fixed and superficial perception of those around us. Dr. Kevin Majeres and Sharif Younes turn to the work of renowned neuroscientist Karl Friston to understand better the importance of challenging this status quo.
22:53
January 25, 2021
42. Uniting Work & Rest
42. Uniting Work & Rest
#42: If you’re aiming to work at your best, constantly operating at 100%, won't you quickly become exhausted? In this episode, Dr. Kevin Majeres and Sharif Younes discuss how to make intense workdays sustainable by introducing periods of intense rest. Intense rest not only helps you recover from work, it also helps you consolidate the learning and growth you attain while working.
22:57
January 18, 2021
41. When People Annoy You
41. When People Annoy You
#41: If someone around you has some defect that annoys you, it can cause a kind of obsession that develops into a critical attitude towards the very person. In this episode, Dr. Kevin Majeres and Sharif Younes discuss how this annoyance develops, what it means for the relationship, and what to do about it.
22:44
January 11, 2021
40. Beginning the Year with High Hopes
40. Beginning the Year with High Hopes
#40: The New Year provides a unique opportunity for a fresh start. To make the most of this opportunity, approach your resolutions with hope and creativity: hope so that you strive for the highest things (ideals, bonds) and creativity so that you can strategize how to achieve them. In this episode, Dr. Kevin Majeres and Sharif Younes discuss a broad array of questions related to New Year’s resolutions.
26:09
January 04, 2021
39. Reframing Explained
39. Reframing Explained
#39: The more you find yourself complaining or dreading, the more you’ll benefit from reframing, the skill that is most essential to OptimalWork. In this episode, Dr. Kevin and Sharif take several examples of difficult situations, pointing out possible reframes and, in the process, shedding light on the different ways to find meaning in the challenges you face.
26:20
December 28, 2020
38. A Cheerful Giver
38. A Cheerful Giver
#38: In this episode, Dr. Kevin Majeres and Sharif discuss some questions received by email about service. Working with a spirit of service means shaping yourself so that you’re the kind of person who is ready to give cheerfully to all those around you. Although this requires that the actual work you’re doing is helpful, the essence lies instead in the way you do it: with a willingness to form and prioritize bonds with those closest to you.
23:09
December 21, 2020
37. Exploring Projects
37. Exploring Projects
#37: In this episode, Dr. Kevin Majeres and Sharif discuss how to approach your repeating tasks in a new and better way. It comes down to three steps. First, identifying a goal to aim for, either in your way of working or what you will accomplish. Second, crafting a strategy to achieve this goal. And, finally, laying out the steps according to the strategy. You can use these steps whenever you are seeking to improve your work or change well-established habits.
28:12
December 14, 2020
36. Early to Rise
36. Early to Rise
#36: In this episode, Dr. Kevin Majeres and Sharif discuss the importance of rising early to meet the challenges of the day head-on. They present an email from someone who uses OptimalWork asking for advice: whether she should adjust her schedule to be much earlier to accommodate a morning workout. They apply OptimalWork’s approach to this question and examine the results it yielded.
23:11
December 07, 2020
35. How to Stop Worrying
35. How to Stop Worrying
#35: In this episode, Dr. Kevin Majeres and Sharif discuss the question of worrying. Worrying is when you have some bad outcome that you continually think about how to avoid. It is one of the top reasons people get stressed out, experience burnout, and feel fatigue. Dr. Majeres helps clarify the precise nature of worrying, as well as steps to take to overcome it.
24:10
November 30, 2020
34. The Cloud of Unknowing
34. The Cloud of Unknowing
#34: In this episode, Dr. Kevin Majeres and Sharif discuss the “cloud of unknowing.” Whenever you are on the edge of your understanding, you will experience a kind of cloud, in which the way forward is unclear. This cloud can be daunting, and you may try to leave it for a safer path — but in fact it is a condition for innovation. Dr. Majeres gives advice on how to advance through the cloud toward discovery.
24:12
November 23, 2020
33. OptimalWork at Home
33. OptimalWork at Home
#33: In this episode Dr. Kevin Majeres and Sharif discuss the differences between applying OptimalWork at home versus a more controlled work environment like an office or library. Certainly, it may be easier to perform an uninterrupted Golden Hour in a more controlled environment. Nevertheless, since OptimalWork is all about learning how to work for the highest motives, namely, for the sake of the bonds with those closest to you, in important ways our approach really applies most easily to working at home.
26:32
November 16, 2020
32. Perfectionism: An Introduction
32. Perfectionism: An Introduction
#32: Perfectionism is a commonly-used label, but it's often not clear what it means. In this episode, Sharif and Dr. Kevin Majeres discuss the issue of perfectionism, its causes, signs, and effects. And they show how OptimalWork's approach is the perfect antidote.
24:02
November 09, 2020
31. Theta Locking: The Muscle of Mindfulness
31. Theta Locking: The Muscle of Mindfulness
#31: In this episode, Sharif and Dr. Kevin Majeres dive further into the concept of “theta locking,” a pattern of brain activity that occurs when we recollect our attention. What it shows is that mindfulness is not a fixed trait, but a kind of muscle that we can develop through practice. Our ability to sustain our attention is something that can be directly practiced in every time of meditation. Such practice leads to the greatest sustained intensity of our attention in work.
28:21
November 02, 2020
30. The Best Exercises for Attention
30. The Best Exercises for Attention
#30: In this episode Sharif and Dr. Kevin Majeres discuss the phenomenon of mindfulness and how you can use it to strengthen your attention. There are three key skills of attention that are developed through these exercises: monitoring your thoughts, disengaging from distractions, and redirecting your attention to the task at hand. When we deliberately train, through both physical exercise and attention exercises, we improve the "hardware" of our brain, so that it can perform better.
23:43
October 26, 2020
29. The Cure for Procrastination
29. The Cure for Procrastination
#29: Procrastination always involves a double-deception. First, you get deceived by the thought of all the effort the task will take, as if that is what you face when starting the task. Next, you deceive yourself by putting it off, even though you know it’s better to get started. In this episode, Sharif and Dr. Kevin Majeres take a deeper look at the underlying causes of procrastination. Understanding the cause reveals the path to overcoming procrastination.
26:44
October 19, 2020
28. Discipline? Let's be sincere.
28. Discipline? Let's be sincere.
#28: If you’re trying to build a new habit but get frustrated by failure, you might think you need more discipline, more willpower. In this episode, Sharif and Dr. Kevin Majeres discuss the real source of constancy in struggle and growth: sincerity. Sincerity about your motives leads to a willingness to sacrifice particular satisfactions or outcomes in the pursuit of ideals. It thus provides the sure foundation for growth and change.
24:31
October 12, 2020
27. The Post-Pre Flip
27. The Post-Pre Flip
#27: You may have wondered how to apply OptimalWork's principles to "passive" activities like attending class or meetings. This week, Sharif and Dr. Kevin Majeres discussed how to actively challenge yourself in these situations, in particular, by doing a "post-pre flip" to completely change how you prepare for them.
22:48
October 05, 2020
26. Overcoming the Afternoon Slump
26. Overcoming the Afternoon Slump
#26: In this episode, Dr. Majeres and Sharif discuss the common, but avoidable, tiredness that often hits after lunch. It can lead to discomfort, decreased productivity, and longer work-days. Dr. Majeres outlines some key principles for engaging the afternoon slump as an opportunity for growth.
22:20
September 28, 2020
25. When Anger Challenges Bonds
25. When Anger Challenges Bonds
#25: We’ve often discussed anxiety: it develops over time as you train your amygdala to perceive certain challenges as threats to be fled. Anger is the flip side of anxiety, when you train your brain to perceive challenges as threats to be fought. In this episode, Sharif and Dr. Majeres discuss how to shape your response to anger. Since it frequently occurs in the context of close relationships, we can discover in anger an opportunity to grow closer.
23:53
September 21, 2020
24. The Key to Mastering Sleep (and anything else!)
24. The Key to Mastering Sleep (and anything else!)
#24: Dr. Majeres and Sharif discuss an approach to sleep developed by Dr. Guy Meadows, as found in his book, The Sleep Book,  and an app he has called Sleep School for Insomnia. The approach, which is centered around the idea of acceptance, mirrors OptimalWork's approach to any challenge: essentially, applying reframing, mindfulness, and challenge to sleep. We cover the theory and practice of this approach so that you too can master sleep — and use the principles to master anything else!  Note: In the conversation, the app was referred to as The Sleep App for Insomnia, but is actually Sleep School for Insomnia.
24:08
September 14, 2020
23. Patience and Thalamic Gating
23. Patience and Thalamic Gating
#23: Dr. Kevin Majeres and Sharif discuss the neurological phenomenon of thalamic gating: the way your brain selectively filters sensations based on what you act on. By changing your behavior — for example, your response to pain or fears — you can train your brain to simply stop noticing these triggers. The key conclusion is that being willing to suffer in the end reduces suffering. This episode presents the neuroscience to support this claim.
23:26
September 07, 2020
22. Reframe out of Addiction
22. Reframe out of Addiction
#22: This week we discuss the nature of addiction, that is, repeatedly giving into a craving in which the costs outweigh the benefits. Addiction comes in many varieties. One mild example discussed is frequently giving in to distractions in work. The pattern of how addictions form is generally the same, and they are likewise broken by following the three steps of the Golden Hour, reframing, mindfulness, and challenge.
23:27
August 31, 2020
21. A Vital Approach to Depression
21. A Vital Approach to Depression
#21: A major new study in the American Journal of Psychiatry highlights three behavioral factors that substantially affect the likelihood of depression. In this episode, Dr. Kevin Majeres and Sharif discuss the study, as well as depression in general, and connect it to OptimalWork's approach.
26:32
August 24, 2020
20. Train Your Attention with Silence
20. Train Your Attention with Silence
#20: The practice of mindfulness is becoming more and more popular, but it can be difficult to understand what it really is, and what effects it has. In this session, we discuss the practice of mindfulness, distinguishing different types of mindfulness, and explaining how certain practices can help you to work at your best, by training your attention through the deliberate effort to attain silence.
21:58
August 17, 2020
19. Transform Your Brain with Exercise
19. Transform Your Brain with Exercise
#19: Exercise has a tremendous power to transform your brain. Surprisingly, exercise has been shown to be one of the most effective treatments for depression. In this video, we discuss why this is the case, and why exercise offers unique benefits for everyone, from shaping the way you approach challenges to the way your brain functions.
22:40
August 10, 2020
18. Prepare Your Brain to Embrace Challenge
18. Prepare Your Brain to Embrace Challenge
#18: Embracing challenges starts with your judgements about them. If you’re stuck seeing challenges as threats, you need reframing. Rather than avoiding challenges, or forcing yourself to get them over with, reframing means recognizing each challenge as an opportunity for growth or service, by placing it in its true context of your whole life. Reframing is not just a mental trick — it causes an identifiable change in your brain. Among other things, this episode covers why it’s important and how to do it — with a thorough example.
20:22
August 03, 2020
17. The Secret of Motivation
17. The Secret of Motivation
#17: How motivated are you to tackle the challenges of the day? For many, motivation comes and goes, which means it’s not really under your control and, more importantly, it’s not really coming from you. You get motivated by things, rather than you motivating yourself to do what’s best. Dr. Kevin Majeres and Sharif discuss what motivation really is, what the only true stable source of motivation is, and how to cultivate it so you can always feel motivated to give your best.
21:11
July 27, 2020
16. Putting People over Projects
16. Putting People over Projects
#16: In this episode, Dr. Kevin Majeres and Sharif discuss motives and priorities. It's common to see outcomes — like getting into the best school, securing a well-paying job, etc. — as ends in themselves. This approach has major costs: if you don't achieve the outcome, you get frustrated and double down on your outcome-focus; if you do, it just leads to you raise the bar and pursue an "even better" outcome. The alternative is to treat outcomes as means, not ends in themselves. They are a way to help you stretch yourself and ensure that you're serving others. You can tell you're being controlled by a desired outcome if you often sacrifice things — like relationships — that should actually be served by the outcomes you pursue.  This discussion was inspired by the following question: "If you posit that there’s a lot of service in most careers and that you can do them with love and that you can learn to focus and flow in most of them, then why choose one over another if it’s not for the increased paycheck, prestige, etc.?"
20:11
July 20, 2020
15. Transform Anxiety by Working at Your Best
15. Transform Anxiety by Working at Your Best
#15: In this episode Dr. Kevin Majeres and Sharif discuss the nature and cause of anxiety. Understanding how anxiety works and what it really is — which is quite simple — can help you transform your approach to it. Crucially, as Dr. Majeres explains, anxiety is not a disorder or something to be avoided. Anxiety can be transformed into your best performance by following three steps: reframing, mindfulness, and engaging the challenge. You can follow these three steps before a time of work, turning it into a Golden Hour of focus and training yourself to embrace anxiety and use it to your advantage.
21:54
July 13, 2020
14. Left & Right Brain, Part 2: Motives
14. Left & Right Brain, Part 2: Motives
#14: Last week, we discussed the left-brain/right-brain paradigm as it bears on work, and this week we are building off the discussion to address motives. Psychiatrist Iain McGilchrist re-popularized this paradigm in his 2009 book The Master and His Emissary, grounding it in neuroscience and using it to explain aspects of psychology, society, and culture (in contrast to previous pseudo-scientific versions of the theory). The approach has profound implications for understanding what motivates your actions —  fear or love?
26:49
July 06, 2020
13. Left & Right Brain, Part 1: Work
13. Left & Right Brain, Part 1: Work
#13: Dr. Kevin Majeres and Sharif Younes discuss the different roles of the two hemispheres of the brain ("left brain" and "right brain"). Psychiatrist Iain McGilchrist re-popularized this paradigm in his 2009 book The Master and His Emissary, grounding it in neuroscience and using it to explain aspects of psychology, society, and culture (in contrast to previous pseudo-scientific versions of the theory). The approach has profound implications for understanding how to work at your best — with creativity and motives of service.
20:36
July 03, 2020
12. Why We Get Frustrated
12. Why We Get Frustrated
#12: This week we used the feeling of frustration as our starting point. In the course of the discussion, we also talked about self-labeling (what we call "schemas"); the true nature of success and failure; and the benefits of focusing on process rather than outcome. This episode gets to the heart of OptimalWork's approach. Schemas are contrasted with ideals: schemas result from and lead to motives of fear, whereas ideals, especially service, offer motives of love. When we act independently of the schemas we (implicitly) have, we become free to learn, practice, grow, and serve.
23:56
June 22, 2020
11. OptimalWork and the Brain: The Default Mode Network
11. OptimalWork and the Brain: The Default Mode Network
#11: Dr. Kevin Majeres and Sharif discuss the default mode network, a network of brain regions that have profound implications for the way we work and live. The default mode is involved when you get distracted, but it can also be trained to help you focus better.
29:26
June 15, 2020
10. How to Grow in Mastery
10. How to Grow in Mastery
#10: Mastery is one of the central concepts of OptimalWork. It means doing work well, and is cultivated through the development and practice of strategies. The projects and templates tools on www.OptimalWork.com are meant to help you make good strategies, and refine them over time. Some of the questions we discussed in this video are: What is mastery? How can you grow in mastery? What's the role of mentoring and collaboration in growing in mastery? What's the relationship between strategies and mastery?
23:05
June 08, 2020
9. What is a Golden Hour?
9. What is a Golden Hour?
#9: Dr. Kevin Majeres and Sharif Younes discuss the Golden Hour, the central method behind OptimalWork. A Golden Hour is like exercise for your work, when you deliberately practice working at your best by preparing for your work with three steps: reframing, mindfulness, and challenge. The Golden Hour can be practiced at www.optimalwork.com!  Some of the questions we discussed are: What is a Golden Hour and how do you do one? Why did we develop the idea of the Golden Hour? What's its origin and purpose? Will the Golden Hour help me find meaning and purpose in my work? (Hint: yes!)
23:27
June 02, 2020
8. How to Measure Your Growth
8. How to Measure Your Growth
#8: Dr. Kevin Majeres and Sharif Younes discuss the Inventory, one of the primary tools of OptimalWork. The Inventory is a 24-item questionnaire, a unique measure of how much you're embracing challenge and growing right now. Some of the questions we discussed in this video are: What's wrong with the idea of temperament and personality tests? What is the Inventory and what's unique about it? How does it differ from other personality tests? How did the Inventory develop? What does my Inventory score mean? What's the best way to use the Inventory?
29:46
May 26, 2020
7. Bring Your Ideals to Life
7. Bring Your Ideals to Life
#7: Dr. Kevin Majeres and Sharif, OptimalWork co-founders, discuss how to "materialize your ideals," that is, how to bring them to life: into reality, into your actions. The key to this is the practice of order, intensity, and constancy: three ideals that you can perfect in each hour of work, and that ultimately shape your practice of any other ideal.  An example we discuss in the video is kindness. How can you bring kindness to life? First order: think about how you're going to practice it, what situations; get a good picture of what it will look like. Then intensity: apply yourself in a particular situation with your whole attention. Then constancy: challenge yourself over the course of, say, a conversation to look for more opportunities to practice kindness.  This is key to understanding a saying we like to repeat: the way you work is the way you live.
23:30
May 18, 2020
6. Getting Traction from Distraction
6. Getting Traction from Distraction
#6: Dr. Kevin Majeres and Sharif, OptimalWork co-founders, discuss how to get traction from distraction. Kevin explains our unique theory of distractions, and draws out the practical conclusions: how to prevent them, and, if they do come, how to find the opportunity for shaping yourself and practicing ideals.  Some other topics that came up:  What to do if you wake up before your alarm goes off.  Good use of technology/phones
23:33
May 11, 2020
5. Victory over Tiredness
5. Victory over Tiredness
#5: Dr. Kevin Majeres and Sharif, OptimalWork co-founders, discuss how to gain victory over tiredness - in the context of afternoon tiredness, naps, and missed sleep.  The discussion was mainly inspired by the following questions: If every time I feel tired I jump on the treadmill will that amplify the feeling of tiredness because I am acting on it?  Can you address the advisability of the short afternoon nap? How do we get back on track of our sleeping schedule, once we had left it?
27:16
May 04, 2020
(Special) 11 Reasons to Jump out of Bed the Moment Your Alarm First Sounds
(Special) 11 Reasons to Jump out of Bed the Moment Your Alarm First Sounds
Dr. Kevin Majeres, co-founder of OptimalWork, gives the 11 best reasons to jump out of bed the moment your alarm first sounds. This practice is one of the keys to personal transformation and growth (along with a daily Golden Hour).
14:26
May 01, 2020
4. How to Get Effective Sleep
4. How to Get Effective Sleep
#4: Dr. Kevin Majeres and Sharif, OptimalWork co-founders, discuss the "illusion of simultaneity" and how to get effective sleep.  The discussion was mainly inspired by the following comment: One question that I have for you, is how can I begin to regulate and improve sleep hygiene? In this time of quarantine, because there aren't specific deadlines at my job, I have the luxury (if you can call it that) to sleep in and fall asleep late.
23:26
April 27, 2020
3. Never Feel Overwhelmed Again
3. Never Feel Overwhelmed Again
#3: Dr. Kevin Majeres and Sharif, OptimalWork co-founders, discuss what to do when you feel overwhelmed, how to make a schedule, and how to prioritize. The discussion was mainly inspired by the following question: The question I have is about decision paralysis/decision fatigue. I have been overwhelmed by all the projects I could do, and in the choosing, I usually fatigue out and then proceed to watch Netflix. How can I overcome decision paralysis?
20:57
April 20, 2020
2. Aiming for Ideals in Relationships
2. Aiming for Ideals in Relationships
#2: Dr. Kevin Majeres and Sharif, OptimalWork co-founders, discuss how to aim for ideals in difficult relationships, and how to respond to negative emotions.  The discussion was mainly inspired by the following comment: I am on quarantine. Three of the people I live with are insufferable characters. They hijack conversations, aggressively contradict people who are just sharing information (not even opinions) and needlessly complain. I'm not anxious of getting covid-19. That virus cannot hold a candle to the virulence of my housemates.
22:07
April 13, 2020
1. Developing Resilience with OptimalWork
1. Developing Resilience with OptimalWork
#1: Dr. Kevin Majeres and Sharif, OptimalWork co-founders, discuss how to develop resilience in this new work environment.  Here are the questions we answered: How can I ensure that I will persevere in good work habits for weeks or even months? How should we maintain a distinction between work and family life? (E.g., thinking about work during family time; getting distracted with family when I should be working.) How do I choose what to do to stay productive, given that I have few serious responsibilities?
21:37
April 06, 2020