Channel Your Inner Animal & Optimize Your Life For True "Happiness"
This article was written through many concepts and ideas discussed in the Menprovement Chat community.
When it comes to the modern day quest for "happiness", a lot of people are struggling internally. They seem to have everything, money, a beautiful companion, a nice home, luxury cars and yet they are still unfulfilled inside. They are on the path that they are "supposed" to be on but at the same time, they feel like that isn't their true path at all. Why is this?
In order to get these answers, you need to look at yourself. Not who you are right now, but deeper. You need to look at what you are. When you break it all down, it comes down to one simple principle .You are an animal.
You are really just an animal...
Yes. You are an animal. Not much different from the chimpanzee's and apes that still inhabit Earth today. You are literally their cousin. While they hunt, live in small bands and packs of family and friends, they listen to their internal drive. We don't. We live in single family homes, go to grocery stores or eat out, sit in an office all day, and listen to societal pressures.
Don't get me wrong here. Don't go full animal and reject everything that you are doing now, the key here is balance. Modern society is a "imagined reality". Human's utilize the whole sphere of earning money, countries, being a citizen, a partner, an employee, as way to ensure that humankind can work together collectively. If these societal structures didn't exist, we would be similar to the apes. We would live in small bands, be competitive with other bands to ensure personal survival, and not grow and innovate the human species forward. Think of a show like The Walking Dead, a similar thing happens in that show. So yes, these imagined realities, and societal structures are extremely vital and should remain intact to a point. If you want to learn more on this topic, a great book is Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari.
Have we caged ourselves?
So here we are. An animal that is entrapped in the story itself has created in order to behave in a society that is supposed to be for the betterment of the entire species. The thing is though, the balance is off more most people. They feel stuck working the same dull work every day, they do not feel challenged, they don't feel passionate in their relationships, they feel their whole life is already planned (work till I'm 55, retire, then retire/travel etc). How do we optimize our lives to ensure we are being true to our animal, but at the same time, keeping a part and keeping the pillars of our societal structures in place? A starting point is to understand what your biological DNA needs and then try to implement your day and life to mimic these needs.
From a hunter-gather human being, which by DNA, we still technically are. Here are a few things they practised in their lives for internal satisfaction and how we can tie it into our modern day lives.
Human Sapiens are a social animal. No matter how you look at it. We prefer to be around others. Maybe not too many others, but at the very least, most people do not like being alone all the time. They need some sort of interaction with another human being(s). This makes sense, the hunter-gatherers lived in packs/bands from a couple dozen to even over 100 people. They lived together, hunted together, raised kids together, and moved together. They danced together, played together, and told stories together. Imagine having all your friends and family (that you get along with) in the same city or even the same neighbourhood. This is likely why university years from when you are settled to when you graduate are exciting for many people. You are close to friends and enjoy doing activities together.
How do you tie this to modern life?
Find a community of friends/family near you. If you are in a new city with no friends, work to connect with people. Go to networking events, go to meetups, join a sports league, get involved in the city, volunteer. Find ways to create connections with people close by to you. Visit your friends, be present with them and sacrifice some time to see them. A lot of the reasons social networks are so popular is it brings this element in. The only problem though is it's not entirely real. Messaging a friend through Snapchat is better than no contact at all, but, don't replace your real life social time for snapping and Facebooking your friends.
2. Varied Diet
Our hunter-gatherer grandparents notoriously had a ton of variety in terms of their food consumption. They would bring home different fruits, vegetables, and meats all the time, depending on what they hunted or what was available. This allowed them to ensure their bodies were getting the right nutrients from their food consistently and weren't significantly lacking in one thing.
How do you tie this to modern life?
Make an effort to put the right foods into your body. Do not eat the same types of fruits, vegetables and meat every day. Try and switch it up. Also, limit processed foods and things like sugar and bread. If you want to take it to the next level, you can follow a plan like the Paleo diet or something similar. Many people actually realize this naturally when they begin craving things like salads and vegetables. When your body is deprived of something it will make you want to crave it.
Hunter-gatherers had to go out and "exercise" daily. Not because they wanted to be muscular and/or have a 6 pack. That is just the a societal trend that you think you need. Hunter-gatherers would run, chase, and lift heavy animals most days. Not every day because living in a pack of 60-120 people allowed them to share the duty and take days off. They could take rest days when needed to balance their life.
How do you tie this to modern life?
Their lives allowed them to be active throughout the day. Kind of like modern day professional athletes who make a living by being active. Think of the sports players before they start the game, they are planted to the ground, ready for pursuit, and strong. In a nutshell? Play sports, workout, run, do something that moves your body naturally, and try to do it daily or at the very least 4 days a week. Perhaps get a standing desk or a treadmill to walk while you work rather than being cramped and hunched over your computer. Maybe get a better chair that helps your posture and/or a computer stand so that your computer is eye level and not breaking your neck. The key here is look for ways to keep your physical body in it's most natural comfortable positions and push it to the limit.
4. Spirituality and Mindfulness
This one might get some flack but it's true. Mindfulness and spirituality play an important role as a human being. It helps you focus and align your internal state to your thoughts, actions, and goals. This doesn't mean being religious, it means understanding your mind and looking inside for answers as opposed to outside. This is where the "feeling" part of our brain is activated, not the logical. Our ancestors believed in spirits and continuously prayed to them for energy and life.
How to tie this to modern life:
Activities like yoga, meditation, nature walks are a key way to easily implement this to your modern schedule. There are even a ton of apps like Headspace that bridge the gap between modern day life and finding time to enter in some mindfulness. Even things like float tanks are really great for being in your own head and limit external stimuli. "Forest Bathing" is a personal favourite and triple downs on exercise, mindfulness, and being outside.
I bet you don't have the attention span to read this entire article...
How did that feel? I just challenged you. Most people take personal challenges pretty seriously. They want to be able to prove the challenger and themselves that they can in fact do it. Now, hunter-gatherers had challenge and purpose in their life through wanting to survive. They also had personal drivers like being the best hunter, the best cook, the best story-teller, the best lover, the best builder etc.
How to tie this to modern life:
What is your purpose? What is your essence? Don't say it is to be rich. The concept of being rich is an imagined reality. It represents social status which a lot of people have. How do you want to be remembered by your grandchildren and great grand children? Are you going to be the innovator, the guy who inspired people, the person who made everyone around them better, the person who persisted and never gave up on their dreams, the person who could accomplish any challenge? The person who could fix anything? What is your essence and life purpose? You need to discover this in order to challenge yourself and have purpose. You are an animal, animals have a purpose, reproduction. As a social animal, its two-fold. Your purpose for your family, and your purpose within the species. A lot of the growth and building within the Menprovement Chat community is focused on this as a base.
6. Nomadic Living Style
Hunter-Gatherers tended to move around from place to place together mostly dependant on the season and the availability of food resources. They were nomadic in that sense that they didn't stay in one spot their entire lives. While they may have stayed within a certain area or region, they didn't seem to have one single home, or one site that was their base home. Home was where the community was.
How do we tie this into modern life?
Don't be attached to a single home or a single city. Be free to move around if you can. This may also be the reason for the huge travel industry and now the rise of remote work. Look at communities like Airbnb, Nomad List, Roam Co-Living, and the plentiful "travel a year with other remote workers" companies. They are literally allowing the ability for people to move around the world while taking care and/or easing the social connection. This is a hard one because most jobs are location dependent and fixed. Just try to cognisant that your inner animal will crave or need some sort of movement or displacement. Go on weekend trips, travel more, visit friends in other cities, and explore new areas of your city. Another thing you can channel, is look into becoming more of a minimalist. Own less things overall except for the necessary and things that you use often. If you are not using a certain object very often, think about selling it or getting rid of it. Owning less is better for your mind and makes you more nimble and gives you a sense of freedom and detachment.
7. Go Outside
Think about this one. Hunter-gatherers were prominently outdoors for most of the time. Everything was pretty much done outside. Socializing, hunting, cooking, cleaning, playing, and probably even sleeping. We are definitely wired to be outside and it truly does make our internal selves happy.
How to tie this into modern life:
Some people can get to the point where they do not need to go outside at all. They wake up inside their home, go to their car in the garage, drive to work, park in a garage and take an elevator up to their office. If they are lucky they have a window in their office but it probably doesn't even open. This is unnatural. We need to go outside daily. Go outside for a walk on your lunch break, walk around your neighbourhood, sit out on a patio or your backyard and enjoy the wind and the warmth of the sun. I would even say drive with your windows down if you live in a nice climate. Get that feeling of being outside.
8. Be Present
This makes sense. Life before was more so enjoyed in the moment. It was unlikely that hunter-gatherers planned their futures like we do now. They weren't planning for retirement, or planning their lives ahead of a few weeks or maybe a few months (seasonal). They were taking it day by day and enjoying the ups and downs of their life.
How to tie this into modern life:
Don't ignore your future. Today's society needs you to plan your future to a certain point, however, try and be in the moment and enjoy each day. We sometimes become hyper focused on the outcome, be rich, retire, get married, promotion, financial freedom, but we forget about and don't enjoy the process. Hard work, dating, learning, failures, getting fired, and so fourth. These ups and downs to get to your outcome are to be enjoyed and be fully felt. That is life. "Happiness" itself is an outcome. I want to be "happy". What people really should be striving to say is, "I want to live fully". I want to be fully present in the process of growth, the process of time, the process of change, the process of failure, the process of success. If you enjoy the process and appreciate life for what it is, life, you will be "happy".
9. True Intimacy
Last but not least, intimacy.
t is our primal desire as an animal to have sex and reproduce our genes. That is basically the reason an animal exists. To ensure it's gene's move on to the next generation. Some would say that every thing that an animal does and gets motivated to do is to ensure it can reproduce itself. Now, there is a difference here between masculine and feminine individuals. A masculine individuals, typically males, drive to have as much sex as possible. This is completely normal. Their success is to have plenty of successful children. The reason? Less investment in care-taking. A man does not need to carry and feed a child directly, he can impregnate multiple females, and still not have to lose time and energy devoted to carrying and nurturing the offspring in their bodies. For females, their investment is much higher, they need to be very picky with who they reproduce with. They need to ensure that when they choose to have sex with someone, that the male will not abandon her and the child and also has the resources to ensure their survival. This why most males are typically the ones that feel like the women has the final say and decision of whether they will mate/have sex.
Now onto relationships... A lot of the drivers that resulted in two people mating was initial attraction towards each other. For males, it was the physical beauty and behaviour of a feminine essence that would likely result in a healthy offspring. Things like symmetrical face, hip ratio, skin complexion, hair length and shine. For women, the men needed to demonstrate not just health and vitality, but more importantly, purpose and drive, social status and resources, and as well as a certain level of commitment. Did marriage exist? Probably not at first since it was biology and natural attraction forces that resulted in somewhat monogamous relationships that saw the male provide for the female during pregnancy and early child bearing. That being said, I do not believe these relationships were meant to last "for all of eternity", since the strength of a species is genetic diversity, it was important to have kids with different matches through ones life. This is where the living in packs might have been beneficial. The ability to stay with a mate for a few years to raise the child, but then also having access to other potential mates in following years.
How to tie this into modern life:
This is tricky and I still think as a species we are figuring out what works best. Currently marriage is still the most desired and societies accepted form of partnership and intimacy. I am not entirely sure this is the best or most natural way since people definitely do change over time. Just look at the divorce statistics and it's easily determined that monogamous relationships that are meant to last 20-30+ years isn't easy. That being said, it does have its place. Marriage does allow for strong child rearing that leads to stronger development of children. Maybe marriage is naturally selected for? However, I think it is always great to questions current trends and traditions. Perhaps if marriage were treated like licencees we would see higher success? A three year term that would allow each party to discuss and see if they would like to continue their relationship forward or not.
I think, in order to increase the chances of making a right partner decision, a few things you can do is put yourself in the right mindset. I think true and natural intimacy comes down to real and authentic attraction and connection. The pick up artist industry capitalised on people's insecurities and tried to teach them how to gamify and trick people into creating a faked attraction. The sad thing is, even though they were having sex, they still weren't truly happy. The first thing is first, build your best self, your most authentic self, and then, only then will you be able to attract the right partner that you wish to have. Not just a physical connection but emotional as well. Especially for males, if you are coming from a place of any insecurity, you need to solve that internal issue first. No partner or female will make you whole. Be whole first, then you'll naturally attract a partner that will shine light and further enhance your whole.
At the end of the day, we have evolved and it's impossible to live life the way our ancestors did, and we shouldn't try to. However, I think there are extremely valuable lessons in terms of optimizing your schedules and habits in order to live a "fuller" and "more complete" life. The more we understand what we are, the better you can "hack" yourself in order to perform better, succeed better, live with purpose, and have stronger and passionate relationships.