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How To Have Tourette’s Part 18: 8400 Seconds

It used to seem like an impossible goal, on par with jumping into orbit, swimming to the bottom of the Marianas Trench, or being able to divide fractions.

I want to sit still for one minute. 60 seconds of peace.

When I was six years old, I started to twitch with involuntary tics. This did not change for nearly 27 years. It was not until December of 2009 that I was able to sit still for one complete minute without distracting myself with things like talking, guitar, video games, or typing.

Those were still small victories, but they were not on my terms. I had to do something else so that I didn’t have tics. But what I really wanted was just to sit still because it was time to sit still, nothing else.

Yesterday things changed

I sat still for two hours and twenty minutes. 8400 seconds. I sat as still as you’re probably sitting right now, unless Tourette’s is contagious and you’re accumulating your own foolish repertoire.

No tics. Not one. No straining. Not even a little bit.

Understand: this has not happened in 27 years. Not for me.

Better yet

I know how it happened. I know how I did it. Within a year I will cure myself. And better than that, I believe I will be able to replicate it with other people with Tourette’s.

8400 seconds.

I cannot articulate it as well as I would like to yet, and definitely not from a scientific standpoint.  But change is coming. If you have Tourette’s, there is help for you. I am studying myself and taking notes. I am working with some of the smartest people in the world when it comes to the body and mind.

None of them are doctors or neurologists. None of them are licensed to cut or prescribe.

Nobody else

Nobody else can solve my problem, so I can either accept my fate or solve it for myself.

8400 seconds.

I reject every diagnosis I have ever been given. I reject the pills and the treatments. I reject the support groups that, while they can be beneficial, do not always encourage me to take care of my own problems, but merely to join a commiseration club.

I refuse to endure. This is not about outlasting something. There is no compromise and there are no concessions. Nothing has power over me or my life. Nobody tells me what can or cannot happen with my life and my health.

If you are being controlled by something or someone. Fight. Now.  Start today. Take what is yours. If you can’t win, at least make it a scrap that your opponent will never forget.

To hell with “The way things.”

To hell with “Nothing can be done.”

To hell with passive acceptance.

8400 seconds and counting.


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  • Bamboo Forest - PunIntended March 17, 2010, 12:26 am

    Don’t know what you’re doing, but keep doing it. Glad to hear of the supremely noteworthy duration of time without tics. You’re on to something. Take it all the way.

  • Hilary March 17, 2010, 1:57 am

    Hi Josh .. that’s wonderful that you’ve worked out how to help yourself .. in conjunction with others. I’m so pleased for you and long may it continue.

    Yes – you put things in perspective for us .. we really have no excuses but to take what is ours, doing it gracefully as life is ours to do our best .. Thank you – Hilary

    • Josh Hanagarne March 17, 2010, 11:38 am

      We all have things that feel unbearable. Don’t think that my situation is worse than anyone else’s. And I’m way better off than many, many people. that said, it’s going to continue.

  • Kris Wragg March 17, 2010, 4:43 am

    Josh that is freekin awesome! I cannot wait to hear when you manage to go a day, a week, a month tic free.

    It’s a true inspiration for all those people out their with tourettes and even other disorders. I truly believe most things can be overcome with enough determination and mental discipline!

    • Josh Hanagarne March 17, 2010, 11:38 am

      I can’t wait either, Wraggy. Sooner rather than later, I promise.

  • Pearl Mattenson March 17, 2010, 5:05 am

    “to infinity and beyond!”- we are rooting for you Josh!

    • Josh Hanagarne March 17, 2010, 11:38 am

      Pearl, first time Buzz Lightyear has made an appearance here. You win a trophy.

      • Pearl Mattenson March 18, 2010, 3:18 am

        I’m not sure I have ever won anything Josh! This is a big day!

        • Lawanda November 7, 2011, 5:23 pm

          Slam dunkin like Shaquille O’Neal, if he wrote ionmfrative articles.

  • Alexa Ispas | Creating Legacy March 17, 2010, 5:12 am

    Hi Josh, that’s awesome! You say these are small victories – but small victories are always the best. They guarantee real progress, one little improvement at a time. Keep going, as Pearl says we are all rooting for you.

    • Josh Hanagarne March 17, 2010, 11:39 am

      enough small victories will add up to The Answer.

  • Eric | Eden Journal March 17, 2010, 6:08 am

    Wow, Fantastic Josh. A tune just popped into my head from “Finding Nemo.” “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming.”

    Question for you. Was it sitting still like meditation still or lounging on the couch kind of still? Was it a full body stillness or a no twitching stillness while the body moved about normally?

    Likely minute details, but very interesting to me. In any case it’s an amazing accomplishment, and I love the path you are making for yourself.

    • Josh Hanagarne March 17, 2010, 11:41 am

      Eric, I’m fascinated by the details too, but that’s a way bigger conversation than I can handle online. If you ever want to jump on Skype and talk, I’d be happy to give you the broad strokes.

      Buzz Lightyear and Finding Nemo in one day.

  • Ironshef March 17, 2010, 6:13 am


    I’ve just started reading your blog after being introduced to you through a guest post on Copyblogger. I was hooked when I navigated over and this post confirms both the line and the sinker.

    At a loss for something more eloquent to say in response to your amazing message here, I say, “Hell yeah!” To convey the concept, through a very personal example, that our minds are the most powerful device we have to battle, well, anything…is inspirational, to say the very least. I’m certainly inspired. I hope others are as well.

    Thanks for taking the time to share your experience. It is definitely appreciated.

    • Josh Hanagarne March 17, 2010, 11:42 am

      I’m also at a loss, and it does happen often, so I’ll just echo your “Hell yeah” and say that I want to know the story behind “ironshef.”

  • Meryl Evans March 17, 2010, 7:45 am

    Wow, that’s great news. I look forward to hearing how you did it. My son has a nasty habit cough. Everyone thinks it’s asthma-related. Maybe your strategy could help?

    • Josh Hanagarne March 17, 2010, 11:45 am

      Meryl, thanks. I have no idea. I’m currently in the exhaustive documentation phase, carrying a recorder everywhere with me, making notes of EVERYTHING I feel, see, rooms I enter, etc. I don’t want to pretend I know things I don’t, but good luck to you. I would certainly help if I thought i could, but I have no idea what the applications of this are beyond my own situation yet. I’m still rooting for you two!

      • Meryl K Evans March 17, 2010, 11:56 am

        It may or may not be applicable – but can’t hurt to experiment unless it involves illegal stuff — just kidding. Seriously, I am so excited for you and have a friend who’s daughter has Tourette’s. I plan to share this inspiring post with her.

  • Susan Giurleo March 17, 2010, 7:48 am

    Josh, Yay YOU! I can hear that you are on to something and I totally believe that licensed professionals are not part of the equation [for everyone else – I am one of those professionals, but trying to recover –:-)]. Our training doesn’t allow room for people to be empowered and work toward their strengths. We are trained to have people rely on us for “help” and “answers.” We don’t have answers and we don’t help by enabling a sense of helplessness.
    I can’t tell you I know how you feel, but I can say that your story today makes ME feel happy for you!

    • Josh Hanagarne March 17, 2010, 11:45 am

      Thanks Susan. I will say that many, many professionals have done wonderful things for me, just not in this arena.

  • david March 17, 2010, 8:11 am

    So badass.

  • Birdy March 17, 2010, 8:29 am


    Good on you for both having the attitude to say ‘not gonna take this’, and the willingness to share your Journey w/the rest of us.

    Best of Fortune on your way as you make those 8400 seconds a lifetime!

  • Amy March 17, 2010, 8:34 am

    I am so looking forward to more details about this. It’s wonderful that you have found a way to help yourself Josh!

    • Josh Hanagarne March 17, 2010, 11:46 am

      As soon as there’s something I know how to explain, believe me, it will be out there.

  • Srinivas Rao March 17, 2010, 8:52 am


    That’s great news to here. I’ll be sharing this with my good friend who has tourette’s. Look forward to seeing what it is going to be.

  • ami March 17, 2010, 9:17 am

    fantastic (tho’ my mom’s soul worries a little). But for today, for now, fantastic. Go celebrate.

    • Josh Hanagarne March 17, 2010, 11:47 am

      My mom probably feels the same way:) but don’t worry, this is not something that I think is going to be solved overnight, but I do know the direction I’m going and which steps to take.

  • Joy Tanksley March 17, 2010, 9:17 am


  • Dan Cosgrove March 17, 2010, 10:12 am

    Awesome!! Ridiculously happy to hear your progress.

    Keep on!

  • Gina March 17, 2010, 10:23 am

    Congrats! Next, it will be 8401 seconds! I love your attitude and the fact that you are taking control of the things you can control. You go!

  • Craig Brown March 17, 2010, 10:54 am

    You kick ass, my friend!

  • Kathy March 17, 2010, 11:20 am

    Josh that is one HELL of a PR! This was definitely of the best and most inspirational blog posts I have read in a while. Most of us take the act of sitting still totally for granted. Keep kicking Tourettes in the ass. I really look forward to reading how you beat it.

    • Josh Hanagarne March 17, 2010, 11:50 am

      It’s not beaten yet and won’t be for a long time. All of the itches and urges are still there, but they are muted most of the day. But it’s coming.

  • Dean March 17, 2010, 11:20 am

    Aside from the fact that I think you are onto something serious with regards to overcoming tourette’s…you might be a multiple choice question someday JH …

    Who cured tourette’s?

    a) Josh Hartnett
    b) Josh Grogan
    c) Josh Hanagarne
    d) Josh Brolin

    *always go with C baby!

    That is pretty exciting.


    ps…and the movie, “8400 seconds” will kick 8 Mile’s ass (although a 2 hr+ movie of a gentle giant sitting quietly may have some getting antsy by the end)

    • Josh Hanagarne March 17, 2010, 11:51 am

      It will also be better than 8 Seconds, that Luke Perry movie.

      • Dean March 17, 2010, 12:00 pm

        and longer!

  • Larissa March 17, 2010, 11:45 am

    WHOA!!!!!!!!!!! I am so incredibly happy for you, Josh. Especially after these awful past months. Anything that can help without poking around in your brain or filling you up with poison, is awesome, and I can’t wait to hear what you’re doing. I also can’t wait to share this with Ethan. He is going through a tough spot right now and it is really painful and frustrating for him. He’s still got a great attitude, though, and I know that’s partly due to you.
    This just totally made my day!!!! I hope you are havin’ a great one too, Josh! 🙂

    • Josh Hanagarne March 17, 2010, 11:51 am

      Keep him happy however you can. Tell him I’m pulling for him and Lego Master! has received its first guest post.

      • Larissa March 17, 2010, 12:00 pm

        That’s awesome! He’s been really bummed about not writing anything for the blog lately. I have realized that as much as he wants to write, he is super self -conscientious. Maybe I shouldn’t have told him how many people read the blog that day. . . . 😉

  • Justin Matthews March 17, 2010, 12:15 pm

    Fantastic acheivement Josh! Congratulations.
    I likw what you said about support groups too. Way too often they are just commiseration sessions. My 3 year old daughter has kidney disease and we went to a couple of support groups for transplant and dialysis and decided they were not for us. We were not going to let her feel sorry for herself or feel “entitled” to something from the world because of her disease. Its a great message you are putting out there, you are the one in charge and you are the one to help yourself.
    Great Stuff

  • Heather March 17, 2010, 12:27 pm

    Dude! Congratulations! That’s awesome! DUDE! YOU ROCK! So. . . uh. . .what’d’ja do, if you don’t mind my asking? Hey, yo, keep this up and you’re gonna have to quit the librarian gig for, like, book tours and Oprah spots and -ish like that! Josh, that’s AWESOME! Well done, you, and way to give Tourette’s The Finger! 😀

    Oh, come on! It wouldn’t really be a comment from ME if I didn’t mention a rude gesture SOMEWHERE! X-D


  • Mary March 17, 2010, 1:24 pm

    glad to hear you found some peace. I hope you do find a way to help others. I would love to hear more so I could help my son when his tics become extreme!

  • Annemieke March 17, 2010, 2:12 pm

    This is really so fantastic!

    Studying yourself and taking notes, that sounds very effective.
    I really hope this progress continues.

    Can’t wait to hear your explanation if you ever get it into wording.

    • Josh Hanagarne March 17, 2010, 4:44 pm

      We can each be a guinea pig. One day maybe I’ll figure out how to cure tallness.

  • Laura Kimball March 17, 2010, 5:40 pm

    You inspire me. I’m so excited about your 8400 seconds and that you have figured out how to make that 8400+.

    “Nobody else can solve my problem, so I can either accept my fate or solve it for myself.”

    That sentence can be used for every situation in life and I like it. It’s a sentence I realized a few months ago and really what’s fueling my ambition: my self. Thank you for writing the words.

    (yes, blog post coming…)

  • Josh,

    I am so excited for you, what a victory. As I read this post I felt as though my heart was ready to burst into song.

    You’re such an inspiration!

  • Dave Doolin March 17, 2010, 10:31 pm

    Right on.

    “Refuse to endure.”

    We’re all survivors, man. No glory in that.

    I wanna be a _thriver_.

    I didn’t make that up, I heard it some place, I don’t remember where. But it fits everyone.

  • Jennifer le Roux March 17, 2010, 10:45 pm

    I am so proud of you!! congratulations!

  • Boris Bachmann March 17, 2010, 11:13 pm

    Well done Josh.

  • Amy Harrison March 18, 2010, 4:55 am

    Congratulations. Very inspiring.

    It’s a lot more difficult short term to make yourself stronger than to rely on prescriptions, and if you can achieve that it is very exciting.

    Looking forward to hearing more!

  • adrienne March 18, 2010, 9:33 pm

    I’m weary of support groups too. It seems like several of them are just an excuse to be around others and spread the misery instead of teaching you how to cope.

    I avoid medication too. I have 3 prescriptions that I haven’t filled because I’m trying to fix it with diet changes and weight loss.

    Congrats on the 8400 and thanks for the visit.

  • Kevin March 19, 2010, 7:07 am

    Josh, That is just fricking awesome. I’m psyched for you. I’d love to talk about the details with you sometime. Some of them may be useful to me with my daughter and her CP. You can always feel free to use me to get your thoughts together as you want to document them, i’m good at asking questions and drawling out details. It’s my day job.

  • Laura March 22, 2010, 7:01 pm

    For what it’s worth, I’m praying that you continue to have success.

  • Michele | aka Raw Juice Girl March 24, 2010, 9:29 am


    Josh, you never cease to amaze me, my friend. You are the man!!!

    Keep up the great work – you’re such an inspiration!!!! 😀

    • Josh Hanagarne March 24, 2010, 2:13 pm

      Thanks Michele. Glad to see you’re still around!

  • Joshua Black-The Underdog Millionaire March 24, 2010, 12:32 pm

    Wow, I had no idea. I have studied neuroscience for quite some time and that is a feat I have never heard of. You are an inspiration to us all.

    …and to think I was bummed about not being able to do the splits completely in my karate class. We all just need to keep working at it and we have no one to fall back on for that ultimate success, except for ourselves.

    -Joshua Black
    The Underdog Millionaire

  • Asatar Bair March 24, 2010, 5:32 pm

    Hi Josh,
    I found your blog through your review of “Combat Conditioning” and I have been fascinated for the better part of the day. I too am an enthusiastic user of kettlebells and other extreme forms of exercise, like running barefoot. Your post about sitting still resonates with me, as a longtime meditator. It sounds like you’re ready to learn more about how to meditate; sitting still is a good beginning, but there’s a lot more. Send me an email if I can help.

    • Josh Hanagarne March 24, 2010, 5:37 pm

      Asatar, you made my day, thank you. I’m not proud–if I think you can help, I’ll be screaming for it:)

  • michael korik January 26, 2011, 5:33 pm

    Please let us know some of your secrets.
    I haven’t been able to meditate for more than 2 minutes.

    • Josh Hanagarne January 31, 2011, 4:02 pm

      Michael, if you check out the series I’m working on called “Curing Tourette’s” you’ll see some of the ideas I’m trying to flesh out. I’m trying to learn how to articulate what has largely been done intuitively.

      also: I can’t meditate for crap, even now that I’m cured! I’ve got the monkey mind.

      • Asatar Bair | University of the Heart January 31, 2011, 4:08 pm

        Josh, you have the first part of meditation down: focus and determination. There is more (much more), but this is the foundation, and the stronger it is, the better.

      • michael January 31, 2011, 4:13 pm

        I do meditate.
        I found it a godsend, but can’t sit still for more than a few minutes.
        Thank you very much for all the advice Josh….

  • Asatar Bair | University of the Heart January 31, 2011, 4:00 pm

    Hi Michael, I’m not sure if you meant Josh or me… but the secret to meditating for long periods of time is to watch your breath, and if you can feel it, pay attention to your heartbeat, placing the two in rhythm, e.g. 8 beats breathing in, 8 beats breathing out. Try it out and let me know how it goes! -Asatar

  • michael January 31, 2011, 4:14 pm

    My problem is sitting still……