y 633-day stay in a federal prison was the single most positive transformational event of my life. I turned around my health and regained some of my youth through the study of mitochondrial biogenesis. My gray hair literally turned red again, my memory improved, and my body now looks like I’m ten years younger.
The picture on the left in the gray shirt is me the day I checked into prison… the picture on the right in the black shirt is me 12 days after my release from prison. No photoshop.
I also discovered faith through the study of quantum biology. I made life-long friends, and I learned the power of gratitude. I became far more disciplined and focused and got rid of a lot of unproductive habits.
I would not trade my prison experience for anything. Yes, I sorely missed my family and friends. But the experience was a necessary part of my character development and a necessary part of my life plan.
On the day I checked into prison, I released a book, Failing Early & Failing Often: How To Turn Your Adversity Into An Even Greater Advantage. I did not know at the time what advantages prison woul bring—but I had faith that I would find them. By the day I checked out of prison, I had concluded that prison was the SINGLE most advantageous experience of my entire life.
The key to all these advantages is the concept of hormesis.
Biologists use the concept of hormesis to explain how some things that can hurt us in large doses can make us stronger in smaller doses. We know this as “no pain, no gain” or “that which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”
According to Aging and Mechanisms of Disease (Mattson 2015) “Hormesis is a characteristic of many biological processes, namely a biphasic or triphasic response to exposure to increasing amounts of a substance or condition. Within the hormetic zone, the biological response to low exposures to toxins and other stressors is generally favorable.”
The single most powerful lesson I learned in prison is the stunning power of hormesis. If you stress your body with fasting, cold temperatures, hard mental exertion, and extraordinary physical exertion—you will see extraordinary improvements in your mind and body driven by mitochondrial biogenesis.
The mitochondria are the powerhouses of every one of your cells. And they multiply and gain mass when they are challenged by hormetic influences such as starvation, freezing, and mental and physical exertion. And the more your mitochondria multiply and gain in size, the better every single one of your bodily functions works.
Prison itself was a hormetic experience. 633 days in prison was in the “hormetic zone” for me where the experience resulted in a biological and mental response that was favorable. If my prison time had been shorter— or a lot longer—this would likely have not been the case.
The lesson here: you must actively seek out painful challenges that make you stronger. Exercise is a well-known example of this. However, the same biological principles that work with exercise are also activated with fasting, hard mental challenges, and exposure to cold. All of these stressors activate mitochondrial biogenesis which can, over time, rejuvenate every one of your cells to a youthful state.
Another powerful lesson I learned in prison is the power of focus. In prison, your email access is severely limited and you don’t have a phone. You are forced to go back to pen and paper, and for me this was revolutionary. I found myself, for the first time, able to THINK and be far more proactive in my thoughts and actions. In the free world, where you are surrounded by constant electronic messages from all your devices, you slowly lose the ability to step back and think strategically.