“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately…I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms.”
Henry David Thoreau (Author; Walden: Or, Life in the Woods)
“He was mastered by the sheer surging of life, the tidal wave of being, the perfect joy of each separate muscle, joint, and sinew in that it was everything that was not death, that it was aglow and rampant, expressing itself in movement, flying exultantly under the stars.”
Jack London (Author; The Call of the Wild)
“Unexpressed emotions will never die. They are buried alive and will come forth later in uglier ways.”
Sigmund Freud (Founder; Psychoanalytic School of Psychology)
Killing the animal inside of you is not self-discipline, it’s self-destruction.
The wilder you are, the healthier you are. Did you know that unbalanced people live longer than well-balanced people (see #17 below)? Did you know that chopping wood boosts testosterone levels 18% more than competitive sports (see #6 below)? Did you know that hiking through the wilderness reduces depression in 71% people, while also increasing self-esteem and motivation? In fact, health care providers are now giving patients “nature prescriptions” to treat a number of ailments including cancer, heart disease, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and anxiety. There’s something special about connecting with your primal surroundings and your primal urges. The problem is that most people have spent most of their lives suppressing these urges.
Call Of The Wild
I know a lot of adults who are making really good money right now. Some of them work for themselves, some of them work for small startups, and some of them work for large corporations. But all of their lives look pretty much the same. They sit in front of a computer for 8-12 hours a day, talk with a bunch of people on the phone, talk with a bunch of people in meetings, watch a little TV every now and then, and scramble to fulfill personal obligations on the side. I used to be like this. I still am like this sometimes. Are you?
Don’t you ever want to just crush something? Do you ever feel liking conquering? Do you ever feel like building an empire, starting a movement, or taking down a giant? Is there something in the world that you want to claim for yourself and sieze right now without asking anyone for permission? I guess this doesn’t sound very safe, practical, or politically correct, but, that’s the point. Being safe and practical and disconnecting from your primal desires will only ever result in mediocrity. Life should be more fun. Life should be more intense, adventurous, and fulfilling.
Feed Your Id
Your id wants you to be happy, right now. According to Sigmund Freud’s personality structure, the id is the component of your mind that works to satisfy your instinctual urges, needs, and desires. The id is the only part of your mind present from birth, operating purely out of a desire to avoid pain and gain pleasure (usually in the form on instant gratification). As part of Frued’s theory, the id is at odds with another part of your mind call the super-ego, which strives to act in a socially appropriate manner. A third part of your mind, the ego, which is organized and realistic, acts as a mediator between the id and the super-ego. Freud used the term ego strength to refer to the ego’s ability to function despite these dueling forces. Over the years, some of Freud’s theory has been debunked but the point is this: there’s a primal part of your brain that’s been pushed down since birth.
When I was a kid, I used to love playing on the swings. I used to swing as hard as I could so the swing would take me as high as possible. After several kicks, I’d be swinging so high that, instead of swinging smoothly backward from the top, the swing would drop vertically a few inches first and then swing backward. And when I couldn’t get the swing to go any higher I would jump out at the very top. A lot of other kids on the playground did this too. I don’t see a lot of swing sets anymore. And I never see adults swinging (that sounds bad but you know what I mean). Reconnecting with your primal urges and releasing your deepest desires is a lot like being a kid. Kids want to push their limits recklessly, they throw tantrums until they get what they want, they play outside, dig ditches, break branches, climb trees, build forts, hide, seek, and jump up and down at the beginning of each day just because it’s the beginning of a new day.
22 Ways To Fight Conformity, Boredom, And Disease
Deep inside of you is an ocean being held back by a wall of toothpicks. You want to be noticed for your full potential, you want to express yourself without limits, you want to risk everything, you want to take without asking, you want to give without permission, you want to lead, escape, dominate, submit, save, contribute, and triumph all at the same time. These urges are in everyone. The problem is that most people have buried their urges under a pile of expectations, obligations, and rules. Once or twice during the day they may notice the ocean surging inside of them, but they quickly strip away its power by checking their email inboxes and to-do lists. They conform and obey until they’re boxed in, bored to death, and chronically diseased. Life doesn’t have to be this way. You can fight it. Here’s how:
1. Build A Fortress – Why do kids instinctually build forts in trees, under the stairs, and with pillows? When I was a kid, every time my parents left me with a babysitter, I would flip the couch upside down and build a fortress with couch cushion trapdoors. I used to see everything as a potential fort. I bet you did too. Everyone wants their own space (with or without armed guards and an alligator mote). Studies show that this is normal. Human beings are territorial by nature. Whether it’s a master bathroom, a man cave, or the house of your dreams, building a fortress can help you reconnect with your primal self.
2. Have A Feast – The communal feast is one of the world’s most common rituals, dating back to antiquity and appearing across numerous cultures. Feasting involves the public consumption of an elaborate meal often accompanied by entertainment. Throughout history, the purpose of feasting includes paying debts, gaining allies, intimidating enemies, negotiating war and peace, celebrating rights of passage, and honoring the dead. The earliest references to feasting include the Sumerian myth of the god Enki offering the goddess Inanna cake and beer (~3,000 B.C.) and worshippers of the Shang dynasty in China offering their ancestors wine and fruit (~1700 B.C.). Scholars agree that feasting connects people in a deep, meaningful, and primal way.
3. Lead A Tribe – No one is coming to nominate you. Without an active decision to lead, you will always be a follower. The only way to turn yourself into a leader is to start something on your own, whether it’s a club, a nonprofit, a business, or a tradition, and then rally people around it. This is harder than it sounds, but the rewards are extravagant. For example, recent studies show that leaders have a higher sense of control and predictability in their lives and, as a result, maintain lower levels of cortisol in their bodies, have few health scares and living much longer than non-leaders.
4. Start A War – There’s a biological limit to being sensitive and getting along with everyone. Too much Kumbaya crap can rot your brain and dull your creativity. On the other hand, creating a little tension by drawing a line in the sand between you and another person or a group of people can sharpen your mind and energize your body. Competition brings out the best in everyone involved. Studies show that competition is ingrained in human behavior and is an effective way to improve both performance and happiness. Life is better when you trying to win versus trying not to lose.
5. Study The Horizon – Our minds our wired to be more creative and motivated in the presence of nature. Research shows that window views of pretty landscapes speed up both patient recovery in hospitals and student learning in classrooms. One particular study found that workers in call centers who could see outside completed their tasks 6-7% more efficiently than workers who could not see outdoors (generating $3,000 in annual savings per employee). Another study found that just glancing at shades of green can boost creativity and motivation.
6. Chop Wood – The primal act of splitting wood has unexplainable health benefits. A study published in Evolution & Human Behavior tested the testosterone levels of the indigenous Tsimane people in central Bolivia before and after cutting wood and before and after playing sports and other activities. The results showed a 46.8% increase in testosterone following wood cutting, nearly 18% higher than the testosterone boost caused by playing sports or working out.
7. Stake A Claim – In colonial times, early Americans could claim a piece of land for themselves simply by riding out into the wilderness and driving a stake into the ground. You can’t do this anymore physically but you can do it mentally. Ownership and territorial tendencies are normal (see #1 above). Make use of these tendencies by staking mental claims on the things you want in life. Write down your goals and review them on a regular basis. Visualize the things you want over and over again while working to obtain them. The stronger you claim something mentally, the faster you’ll make it yours physically.
8. Hunt – Lions chase their prey, not just to eat, but because they enjoy the chase. The chase itself activates the brain’s reward system. The same is true for human beings. We experience anticipatory joy, or pleasure derived from anticipating a desired outcome. Studies by Brain Knutson at Standford University show that just looking at a desired object activates neural signals associated with the release of dopamine (a neurotransmitter associated with motivation and pleasure). Knutson’s work suggests that we enjoy pursuing the objects of our desire just as much as we enjoy actually obtaining them.
9. Be Hunted – Everyone wants to be desired, sought after, and appreciated for their talents and skills. In fact, research shows that the desire to be appreciated (especially at work) is one of the strongest desires people have. Whether it’s a company pursuing you for a position or a person pursuing you for a date, it feels good to be wanted. But how do you make other people to want you? Simple: want them to want you without needing them to want you. It’s that easy and that hard.
10. Climb A Tower, Tree, or Rock – Climbing physical objects will help you start climbing mental objects, like limiting beliefs. Your psychology feeds off of your physiology. Staying grounded in the physical world will keep you grounded in your mind. This is why people who travel are more successful on average than people who never travel. Expand your physical boundaries and you’ll expand your mental boundaries.
11. Destroy Something – If you don’t feed your urge to destroy things, you’ll end up destroying yourself. Everyone has self-destructive tendencies. The key is to channel this primal urge responsibly. Whether it’s through a tough workout, chopping wood (see #6 above), or by smashing your computer with a baseball bat, destruction is therapeutic.
12. Create Something – The desire to create is a primal urge. It’s why children stack blocks and build forts (see #1 above) from a very young age. The problem is that most people stop creating after high school or college and, instead, just follow orders, repeat tasks, and regurgitate information. Make it a goal to create something new each week, even if it’s just a journal entry or a simple drawing.
13. Stand Up – Try not sitting down for an entire day. I bet you can’t do it. The average person sits down for more than 8 hours a day. Studies show that sitting for more than 3 hours per a 24-hour period can cut two years off a person’s life expectancy, even if he or she exercises regularly. And watching TV for more than 2 hours a day can shorten life expectancy by another 1.4 years. This is because sitting weakens your muscles, heart, blood flow, digestion, and respiration. If you go to a conference or some other event that requires you to stand up all day and, at the end of the day, your legs, back, or feet hurt, guess what, you’re not standing enough.
14. Eat Red Meat – Nothing is more primal than eating a big fat steak. In particular, eating red meat has been shown to improve cognitive function and immune system activity (though you rarely hear about these studies). Red meat also boosts testosterone and the saturated fat in red meat blunts insulin spikes by blocking insulin receptors.
15. Grow Your Own Food – Not only is naturally grown food healthier for you, but the act of gardening itself is associated with numerous health benefits.
16. Lift Heavy – Our bodies are wired to lift heavy things and run really fast for a short periods of time. We’re not made to run on a treadmill for 60 minutes at 70% of our max heart rate. Research shows that 7-minutes of high intensity interval training is just as effective as 1-2 hours of cardio training. Other studies show that interval training skyrockets testosterone and human growth hormone production. This makes sense – after all, can you name one wild animal that runs back and forth through the jungle or savannah for extended periods of time to “stay in shape”?
17. Get Unbalanced – The results of a famous longevity study that tracked 1500 people for almost 100 years found that sacrificing work-life balance to accomplish goals and live up to one’s potential helped individuals live longer. Yes, you read that right. People who lived part of their life way out of balance to achieve something important lived longer than people who lived well-balanced lives. In fact, there wasn’t a single exception to this rule in the study. Check out The Longevity Project by doctors Howard Friedman and Leslie Martin.
18. Sleep Outside – Studies show that sleeping outdoors can restore healthy melatonin levels and repair circadian timing. The colder temperatures and increased ventilation associated with sleeping outside is also better for your health.
19. Make A Mess Of Things – Studies out of the University of Minnesota show that making a mess in you life increases creativity and prevents conformity. Obliterating your surroundings or destroying certain things from time to time (see #11 above) is a primal urge that acts to free your mind and revive your imagination.
20. Exile Someone – Stop ignoring the urge you have to banish negative people from your life. Show them the door. Institute an exile.
21. Barter A Deal – There’s a reason why Pawn Stars is the History channel’s highest-rated series. In 2011, the show was the second highest-rated reality series on TV. This is because the desire to negotiate, or to fight for the best deal you can get, is a primal urge. The barter system has been around for 100’s of years, long before money was invented.
22. Go On A Pilgrimage – For centuries, people from cultures all around the world have gone on pilgrimages. A pilgrimage is a journey or search for moral or spiritual significance. In general, traveling to new places acts to expand your mind and change your perspective (see #10 above). Reconnect with your primal self by traveling as far away from your home, or from your comfort zone as possible. You won’t be the same person when you come back. And that’s a good thing. Here’s a list of 10 historic pilgrimage sites. Here’s another list.