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Own the Day, Own Your Life: An Interview With Total Human Optimization Master Aubrey Marcus


When we recently published our list of 12 Rules for (a Stoic) Life (a post that got a surprising amount of pushback from students of Stoicism of all things), one of the recurring questions from our audience was in regards to rule #11, the one on taking cold showers. Why cold showers in the first place, and how does one discipline themselves to take one? We reached out to someone who knows a thing or two about cold exposure, and how one can maximize their potential as a human. Our interview today is with Aubrey Marcus, the founder and CEO of Onnit, a lifestyle brand based on a holistic health philosophy he calls Total Human Optimization. You might have seen him on the covers of Men’s Health or listened to his popular show, The Aubrey Marcus Podcast, a destination for conversations with the brightest minds in athletics, business, science, and philosophy with over 10 million downloads on iTunes. His new book, Own The Day, Own Your Life, is now out.

We reached out to Aubrey to learn more about how philosophy factors into optimizing human performance (Aubrey was a philosophy major in college, and he is a fan of the Stoics!), how does one develop the habit of taking cold showers, the best way to start one’s morning with specific tips and routine suggestions, his favorite Stoic quotes, book recommendations, and much more! Enjoy our interview with Aubrey below!


You’re well known for “total human optimization.” How does philosophy play into that? What tools, techniques, and philosophies have you found to best optimize your mindset?

I was a philosophy major at University of Richmond, and the reason I was so drawn to it was because I love solving puzzles. The human body and mind is one of the greatest puzzles in the universe. I wrote over 100,000 word book describing some of the best tools and techniques to optimize yourself, but as it pertains to the mind there are three major themes.

1)  Forgive your past mistakes

2)  Surrender completely to the process, without worrying about outcome

3)  Use every piece of resistance as a point of assistance.

How did you first come to the Stoics? Why do you think the philosophy resonated with you? Do you have a favorite Stoic quote?

I first came to the Stoics while studying ancient philosophy in school.  But it wasn’t until life got a little bit rougher that I really understood the value.  There is going to be some gnarly shit that happens to you. Some of it will be your fault, and some of it won’t.  You aren’t responsible for that. What you are responsible for is how you respond. Will you use that thing to make you stronger or will you use it as an excuse to play the victim your whole life?