All Commentary
Tuesday, June 18, 2024

A Hearty Breakfast for Mind and Soul

The most important meal of the day.

Image Credit: Thought Catalog - Unsplash

You’ve probably heard that “breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” According to The Daily Telegraph, the saying was coined by American dietitian Lenna Cooper in a 1917 article in Good Health, a magazine published by a medical facility run by Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, the inventor of corn flakes.

Whether consuming carbs and calories early in the morning is bio-optimal or not, I have found that ingesting new ideas as soon as possible after waking is a mentally fueling and spiritually nourishing way to start a great day. As Moses and Jesus taught, man does not live on bread alone. The most important meal of the day may actually be a hearty breakfast for the mind and soul.

Here’s my current recipe for such a breakfast. Upon waking, I make a beeline for a book: particularly a title that is highly informative for some important and inspiring endeavor I’m currently working on. For example, lately I have been immersed in developing civics curricula for the Foundation for Economic Education. So, this morning I started studying America’s Revolutionary Mind: A Moral History of the American Revolution and the Declaration That Defined It by political philosophy professor C. Bradley Thompson.

To awaken my psyche as fully and quickly as possible, I try to engage my reading deeply. I do this by extracting a “key word outline” from the “source text.” After reading each sentence, I select the three words from it that are most essential to its meaning and write those words out on a line. This can be done on paper or in a digital document. This practice forces me to wrap my head around the meaning of the content and prevents me from groggily glossing over the words with only my eyeballs. Key word outlining copy clears the cognitive cobwebs even better than a cup of coffee can.

I do this until I have key word-outlined a conceptually self-contained portion of the book (section headers are useful guides for judging when to stop). After thus fully and methodically taking in the ideas of the passage, I articulate in my own words (either by speaking or writing) the basic message of the source text, referring only to the key word outline to remind myself of that message. Such “active recall” of new information has been shown by learning science research to aid retention greatly.

As I write this, it is about three in the morning. I woke up before midnight and was too intrigued by the work I wanted to do today to go back to sleep. Yet, in spite of such sleep deprivation, developing and doing the above practice quickly catalyzed my curiosity, contemplation, concentration, creativity, and care for craft. Having a hearty intellectual breakfast fueled my launch into a flow state that I then channeled into crafting this little essay I am now proud to publish. My morning mental breakfast powered a morning mental workout which now feels likely to launch me into a lovely day.

Dear Reader, I wish the same for you.

Reprinted from Dan Sanchez’s Substack Developing Devotion.


  • Dan Sanchez is an essayist, editor, and educator. His primary topics are liberty, economics, and educational philosophy. He is a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE). He created the Hazlitt Project at FEE, launched the Mises Academy at the Mises Institute, and taught writing for Praxis. He has written hundreds of essays for venues including FEE.org (see his author archive), Mises.org, Antiwar.com, and The Objective Standard. Follow him on Twitter and Substack.