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What Bipolar Disorder can teach you about Peak Performance?

All of us are dealt curveballs in life. Some lose their role models too soon. Others struggle in bad environments. Many go through hell and back only to discover they are Sysifus, not Dante. Mine curveball is living with Bipolar Disorder (BD).

I won’t say I hit it out of the park every day, but the psychic and physiological exertion to cope with this illness has taught me a lot about peak performance. Not because I’m an optimizing freak, but because through trial and error, it has shown to be the best way to regulate the ups and downs.

Picture this.

You are set on eating healthy but instead chooses junk food for convenience. After a while, you feel a little bit tired and overburdened, so you decide to decompress with some cheap entertainment and ice cream. You sacrifice sleep, but hey, it’s worth it. You can’t pinpoint why, but you struggle almost every waking hour. After a few failed attempts to shake things off, you give up and accept fate. Life is hard.

Those are recurring struggles for people with BD. Not because they function differently, but because they are sensitive to biological shifts that might turn their life into a Japanese game show.

So why am I talking about them? You want to learn from people in extreme cases because the fundamentals are really relevant to them. If they can trust those tools to navigate through good and hard times, so can you.

After the diagnosis, I felt unjustly punished, broken, and resentful towards the universe. “Why me? People will think I’m weak. Why can’t I catch a fucking break?” That bitterness permeated everything I did and felt. And like a spell, it made me stressed, paranoid, anxious, and cynical. The more I struggled, the more I tried to cope as normal people did.

Problem waking up? “Coffee will help.” Don’t feel like working out? “It’s just one day” (then 2, 3, 4…). — You gained some weight. “How dare you?!” I lived for the happy hour and a chance to blow off steam.

Unfortunately, it took a long time of debilitating suffering to understand that the path of least resistance only adds misery to life struggles. If the ups and downs are inevitable, you need to be on your best behavior to keep moving forward.

That’s when I looked at what highly successful people with BD and Pro Athletes have in common.

When you look into their similarities, you’ll notice a common pattern of consistency in their habits. It’s all about doing their best, being mindful of recovery, enjoying downtime, and compounding good habits so they can play at the highest level. Good lives are designed for Peak Performance.

They are not interested in the path of least resistance. Instead, they are focused on doing their best every day. And they do this by setting up systems to keep them on their best behavior.

  • Is sleep OK? — Check.

  • What am I putting into my body? — Oh, that’s interesting.

  • Is this working, how is my progress, and what do I need to change to get better?

It’s all about doing the little things, over and over and over.

Their approach changed how I treat my body, manage my time, and execute my goals. I’m now able to perform better at my job, have deeper relationships, meaningful conversations and I don’t feel tired of moody as I once did. BD is still there, but I’m way more prepared to deal with it and every other curveball that comes my way.

When you focus on peak performance you can keep the momentum going and live at your best.

Hope you find it useful.

Lucas Napier

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