Introduction to the Primal Lifestyle
(This is a post from PrimalExistence.com that publishes outstanding articles about masculinity)
In spite of living in the most abundant and comfortable conditions ever known in history, men of today live with low spirits. In spite of all our medical advancements, men are suffering from progressive mental and physical deterioration. In spite of all the supposed opportunities, many men are lost and their life satisfaction is lower than ever before. These are all happening in spite of our celebrated social and technological progress. What is behind all this discrepancy? The answer lies in our evolutionary design.
The Philosophy behind the Primal Lifestyle
The current social conditions that have been inflicted upon mankind is leading to the degradation of human existence. Modern advancements have been made primarily for pecuniary purposes; not for the sake of humanity. Simply put, we live in artificial and abnormal conditions that run counter to our natural state of being. Instead of living for ourselves, we live and work for the System. The System, in turn, does not care about the quality of your life — it only cares about your productivity and input. You do yourself no favor by living the way the modern society wants you to live.
The Primal Lifestyle is a way of reversing this degradation of life by living as men did in the past before the System came to dictate our lives. If you understand the philosophy behind the Paleolithic diet, then understanding primal lifestyle would be easy for you: It is simply extending the same philosophy out onto all other areas of life. By learning from how our primal ancestors lived, and by living as we were designed to live to get in touch with our primal being, we can improve our mental and physical well-being along with our life satisfaction.
Even as we live within the System, there are ten areas of life that you can change to make significant improvements in your state of being.
The Ten Areas
Much of our modern diet is designed to hook people to the pleasures of taste. The food industry’s only goal is to accumulate profit using sub standard, processed food that was mass-produced using artificial chemicals, GMOs, and hormones—all at the expense of our health. Even the containers that store the food are often laced with various chemical toxins. In addition to the modern diet, many people also engage in smoking and drinking alcohol which adds, even more, burden onto their health. The result of all the products we consume is the modern health crisis. For example, obesity, along with diabetes, has become widespread around the world—even among developing countries—while cardiovascular diseases continue to be the leading cause of death in industrial nations.
The answer to modern diet is the Primal diet. Primal diet—more commonly referred to as the Paleolithic diet—is already well-known. There are many different interpretations and you can find numerous guides online, but the most basic idea is to follow the diet we humans evolved with before the industrialization and before the advent of agriculture. This means avoiding processed food, significantly reducing or totally eliminating grain and other carbohydrate-based foods, and consuming a higher intake of healthy, animal-based food instead. Other actions you can take is to avoid GMO’s and consume organic food instead, and refraining from all the chemical toxins that affect your health.
2) Physically Active Lifestyle
It goes without saying that exercise is a necessary activity for the modern man. Our primal ancestors didn’t need to exercise because their daily activities were physically demanding and they were constantly on the move. Us modern men in comparison spend much of our lives doing repetitive actions and spend several hours a day sitting at work, commute, and leisure. This act of sitting in itself is causing numerous health problems which even exercising on a regular basis cannot reverse. Although standing for a prolonged period of time can also be potentially detrimental, you should strive to stand and walk whenever you can and take frequent breaks if your job involves prolonged sitting.
As for exercise, always push your limits and work on different areas of your fitness such as strength, stamina, flexibility, and endurance. Remember that strong mind can only be contained within a strong body.
Unlike our primal ancestors who spent almost their entire day out in the sun, we spend the majority of our time indoors and away from the sun. As a result, most of us are deficient in sunlight, and especially more so for those who live in northern climate. It’s easy to dismiss the importance of sunlight without understanding all the benefits it provides us such as: improvements in mood, regulation of sleep cycle, Vitamin D production, etc. These are reasons why you should go out more to expose yourself to sunlight and take Vitamin D supplements as needed.
Sleep is one of the more underrated aspects of our health that is often neglected. There are many benefits to improving your sleep including improvements in your mood, energy, memory, curbing inflammation, weight control, better focus, and cognition, etc. You should look to improve sleep in two ways: Duration and quality. For the duration, you should always try to sleep your full normal sleep duration which is usually eight hours for most people. By improving the three areas above, especially physical activity, you will naturally improve your sleep quality as well.
There are also few other ways to improve the quality of your sleep. The first is to minimize exposure to artificial light in the last few hours before sleep, especially light from your computer screen or other electronic devices. Second, avoid stimulants like coffee and other substances such as alcohol that negatively affect your sleep. Third, avoid lying down in bed unless you are sleeping so that your mind only associates your bed with sleep. Some people go as far as using the bedroom only for sleep and doing work elsewhere to keep the two separated. Fourth, make sure that your sleep and wake time is set and kept on a consistent basis. Fifth, ensure that you have no other medical problems that may be affecting your sleep such as an apnea.
Perhaps one of the most unfortunate consequences of the modern industrialization and urbanization is the fact that we have become far removed from nature itself. Living in a crowded and polluted concrete jungle can only lead to feelings of dejection and disconnection. As a proof of how important our natural environment is, studies have shown that merely looking at a picture of nature can bring better focus and lowered stress. It is worthwhile to take the time to appreciate nature and spend time connecting with it.
6) Social Connectedness and Intimacy
We live within a social structure that is much different than what we have been evolved for. Our primal ancestors lived in a tribe numbering few dozen to few hundred people. They spent almost their entire time together and were intimately connected with all members of the tribe. Modern life, in contrast, usually involves living among millions of strangers with increased emotional detachment and isolation. While social media is able to ‘connect’ an individual to vast amount of people, whatever relationship that forms is impersonal and superficial without any meaningful expression of intimacy.
7) Living a Simple Life
Life in the modern world is rife with clutter and distractions. There are far too many material objects, far too many things to keep track of, and far too many things to do. All this adds up to the psychological burden of stress, anxiety, and guilt for the modern man where nothing ever feels enough. The solution is to live a simpler life and have minimal possessions. Disengage from living a materialistic life by reducing your possessions and only buy what is necessary for you to live. Also, try to de-clutter your activities by eliminating those that are non-essential and by disengaging from doing things that bring little to no value to your life. By being focused on doing things that are truly important to you, you will live a less stressful and more productive life.
8) Living in the Moment
Our primal ancestors lived day-by-day and from moment to moment. In our modern society, our time perception has become grossly distorted. Our minds are often drifting away into the past and the future. We often lose touch with the present reality and engage in fantasizing about something beyond our reach. Many people also engage in escapism by being captivated in false reality through the media. These activities only serve to dull their senses to the reality and turns them into weak and passive spectators.
You should take care to anchor your mind in the present moment and in this reality. Here and now is where you live and where you have control over your life. Don’t allow external and internal influences to distort your sense of reality.
9) Living Adventurously through Danger
The secret of reaping the greatest fruitfulness and the greatest enjoyment from life is to live dangerously. – Nietzsche
Before a safe and secure environment was established by the modern society, men lived in wild environments full of danger. The constant state of danger meant that men often had to fight and risk their lives without having any choice in the matter—they were compelled to do so to survive. But it is that same state of danger that made life meaningful, adventurous, and satisfying.
Most men today live their lives without facing any real danger and is thus bereft of any sense of adventure. To compensate for their repetitive and monotonous lives, they watch sports and movies to experience danger vicariously. They play video games where they can safely experience the kind of adventure that is lost to them.
To live a life that is more exhilarating and meaningful, live dangerously. Life only becomes a pleasure to live when you embrace danger and challenge death.
We, humans, are naturally inclined to rest and conserve energy so that we can assert ourselves when it is necessary to act to survive or obtain what we desire. In our modern world, survival is easy and we can obtain our basic needs conveniently, which means that our natural inclination to rest is likely to work against us and make us weak and passive. You can easily detect any man who fails to strive for life by simply looking at him. Such man carries his body around like a baggage without any confidence. There is no fire in his eyes and there is a meek look on his face. This is a man who lives in a state of ‘passive desperation’ as Henry Thoreau calls it.
A man who strives for life is much different. He drives himself towards taking action rather than wait for ‘motivation’. He knows exactly what it is that he desires and builds upon his passion. He dedicates all his life energy towards his endeavor while avoiding the trap of pleasure and comfort. He doesn’t get distracted by unimportant things and does not allow himself to be discouraged by any sort of failure. He is the master of his own life who paves his own destiny.
In our modern world of automation and instant gratification, striving for life must become a concentrated and conscious effort. You must struggle and challenge yourself to master life. You must search for a mission of your own to dedicate yourself to. You must guide your own life instead of letting it be guided by external forces. Live to assert yourself out onto the world.
Since the natural environment no longer dictates the course of our lives, it is up to each one of us to forge a disciplined life that enables us to live up to our potential. While safer and more comfortable living conditions of the modern world makes it easier to be complacent with life and become weak as a result, the modern world also provides knowledge and resources that were not available during the primal times. It’s up to you to take advantage of what is available to you and use it to maximize your life potential.
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