100,000 Words (Part 1 of 2)

100,000 words cross our eyes and ears every day. That’s 34 gigabytes and 12 hours’ worth of information.

Most of those words go in one ear and out the other.

There are a rare few, however, that stick with you.

This started as a post about the best health books I’ve read. It evolved into something much more meaningful.

These are the words that have shaped my life–the ones that have guided me, taught me, made me think, made me feel, and kicked me in the ass and inspired me when I needed it most.

This is the first of two posts (here’s the second). Each one is broken up by author. I encourage you to explore the work of each of these fine writers.

If you look closely enough, I know you’ll find a nugget of wisdom here that will change your life for the better too.

Away we go …

Michael Pollan

Imagine if we had a food system that actually produced wholesome food. Imagine if it produced that food in a way that restored the land. Imagine if we could eat every meal knowing these few simple things: What it is we’re eating. Where it came from. How it found its way to our table. And what it really cost. If that was the reality, then every meal would have the potential to be a perfect meal.

Pollan, who wrote The Omnivore’s Dilemma, changed the way I think about my health. I started this website in 2008 because of this book. If you care about where your food comes from, please read it.

It’s one of the most important books ever written.

For a shorter, simpler lesson on how to eat better and live healthier, pick up a copy of his tiny (112-page) book Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual.

James Altucher

There’s always a gap between “what I have now” and “what I would like.” The gap is all of your excuses. All it takes to close the gap is to be creative and work your way through the excuses. I repeat: this is ALL IT TAKES.

James is kind of a big deal in the blogging world. He has over 100k followers on Twitter for good reason: the dude writes with passion and raw honesty.

His blog post The Ultimate Cheat Sheet For Dealing With Excuses really hit home with me. So did this one. This guy writes simply and makes you think–both marks of a great writer.

If you have a huge goal you’re struggling with or you want to change something in your life, reading his posts will help you.

James also self-published a book called Choose Yourself … haven’t read it yet but I hear great things.

John Carlton

Most people don’t want to grow, anyway. Growth only comes from movement and change… and the vast majority of the folks walking the earth with us today are terrified of change.

Carlton is a legend in the Copywriting world (and he’s not afraid to tell you). If you want to learn how to sell with words, study his work.

I’ve always admired John’s knack for salesmanship but I realized just how brilliant of a writer he is after reading his blog post The Rest Of Your Freakin’ Life. It’s an amazingly insightful piece of writing–one of the few articles I’ve read that left me in awe from a guy most people have never heard of.

If you have any desire to start your own business, read his book The Entrepreneur’s Guide To Getting Your Shit Together.

David Foster Wallace

The really important kind of freedom involves attention, and awareness and discipline, and effort, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them, over and over, in myriad petty little unsexy ways, every day. That is real freedom. That is being taught how to think. The alternative is unconsciousness, the default setting, the “rat race” — the constant, gnawing sense of having had and lost some infinite thing.

Without question one of the greatest writers of our generation. Like many brilliant minds before him he suffered from severe depression and took his own life in 2008 at the age of 46.

The first thing I ever read by Wallace was his essay Consider the Lobster. One-word review: wow. His use of language is otherworldly.

However, Wallace’s commencement speech to Kenyon College’s class of 2005 was his work that had the greatest impact on my life. When you have 23 minutes to spare, listen to the audio. Or read the transcript here. There are so many nuggets of wisdom contained in this speech I don’t know where to begin. It’s poetic … inspiring … thought-provoking … life-changing.

For you advanced readers out there who like a challenge, check out his 1,104-page masterpiece Infinite Jest. I have yet to conquer this beast but it’s sitting on my book shelf waiting for me.

Alexandre Dumas

All human wisdom is summed up in these two words— ‘Wait and hope’.

During college I didn’t read a whole lot. I was more interested in testing the human limits of alcohol consumption … which landed me in jail for a night after I urinated in public and tried to run from the police.

There was a silver lining in this epic screw-up though: it prompted me to stay in and read a couple nights a week. The first book I picked up was The Count of Monte Cristo, the epic novel originally published in a series from 1844 to 1846. This book reignited my love of reading and made me really think–something I hadn’t done in a while. To this day, it’s still the best work of fiction I’ve read, hands down.

Marcus Aurelius

The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts.

Aurelius was a Roman emperor and Stoic philosopher who is one of the most quoted sages in history. His book of wisdom Meditations helped me through some tough times in my life. If you’re a quote person, grab a copy of it–you’ll be glad you did.

Great book to have on your nightstand if you want to plant a seed of positive thought in your mind before going to bed or when you wake up.

Your Turn

What words have inspired or influenced your life most? Let me know by leaving a comment below or emailing me (Scott@thehealthyeatingguide.com).

Click here to read Part 2 of this post.


  1. Benoit says:

    “His book of wisdom Meditations helped me through some tough times in my life. If you’re a quote person, grab a copy of it–you’ll be glad you did.”

    Completely agree with this, same thing for me exactly. When you discover the stoic movement, it puts everything into relativity for you, and allows you to destress and enjoy life, in the sense of your other quote “Wait and hope”…

  2. Great calls here Scott. James Altucher is simply amazing isn’t he? A few of my personal favs are, The Power of Habit: Why we do what we do in life, As a man thinketh, and Switch.

    Oh man, there is just to many to mention here.

    • Justin – love all three of those. Power of Habit is fantastic … I’m a big fan of James Allen and the Heath Brothers. Check out Rework by the guys from 37signals if you haven’t already.

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