Note from Jonathan: This post was written by Logan Marshall, who just published a guide to reclaiming our natural, wild movement. If you’ve ever wanted to ditch the gym and have fun while getting in shape, I recommend that you click here to check it out.
For thousands of years, dating back to the Enlightenment period in Europe and before, humans have been trying to comprehend how the universe operates, to logically understand things like why the seasons change, how the heart functions and why gravity exists. While this period saw many groundbreaking discoveries, it also instilled in humans an overly analytical mindset that has had some serious negative repercussions.
In this rise of science and reasoning, humans tried to compartmentalize the innately spontaneous and varied thing that is human experience, to break down our health, work, and relationships into regimented and machine-like patterns. While these patterns certainly aid in our understanding of things beyond our comprehension, they have created a society of people living like machines. In organized and regulated cycles that crush their spirits and dampen their souls.
You are not a machine. Stop acting like one.
Humans Need Variability
In reality, human experience is incredibly complex, spontaneous, and always changing. Studies now show that a healthy heart actually beats in surprisingly varied and erratic patterns, and it’s when a heartbeat is rhythmic that you might have a problem.
Think about the evolution of human experience. For thousands of years, humans lived a incredibly raw and primal existence. Each day was filled with new challenges, adventures, and saber-toothed tigers. However, as time went on, the dull drone of conformity slowly settled upon humanity. Schools presented their students with monotonous schedules, jobs became systematized, physical movement was reduced to repetitive exercises. Like a machine, the vibrant unpredictability of life slowly faded into a regrettably predictable system.
There is nothing wrong with you for hating the drudgery of the cubicle. Routine and predictability stand in stark contrast with the way humans are designed to live, with the way we lived for thousands and thousands of years. In fact, the human body and mind are wired for spontaneity. It’s in our blood.
Hacking The Matrix
I know, I know… I’m giving you a system for how to break free of a system. But bear with me, this system is one worth following.
For me, there are three primary areas of life that desperately need variability… Exercise, work, and experience.
Have you ever wondered why 90% of people who try to get in shape fail? Okay, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration, but not by much. The majority of people who start an exercise routine, regardless of their initial enthusiasm, end up back on the couch.
Why? Because exercise is boring. I admit it. Treadmills, stair climbers and dumbbell curls are about as exciting as a polynomial equation. In fact, exercise is a lot like math: Both are formulaic, rigidly uncreative, and cause many people great pain.
To ancient cultures, the idea of designating a period of time to perform repetitive motions in a stale gym would have been perplexingly comical. Back then life was extremely physical and people probably enjoyed a wide rage and physical mobility simply by performing movements integral to their survival. Exercise did not exist, but movement did.
In order to hack today’s fitness mainframe we need to exercise less and move more. To work out less and play more. It’s a small shift, but it makes all the difference.
What’s the difference between exercise and movement? Simple.
Exercise is specialized, movement is diverse.
Exercise is regulated, movement is explorative.
Exercise is boring, movement is playful.
To re-learn how to move, click here.
Twelve years of school prepared us for the monotony of work. It taught us to pay attention, to do as you’re told, to sit for long periods of time doing menial tasks, to report to a higher authority. When the curtain is removed, it’s clear that this path was purposefully laid for us. We need industrial workers and cubicle employees to run our nation and fuel our economy. It is a system within a system. (quote)
However, this kind of existence is ruthlessly unfulfilling and contradicts our very biology as spontaneous and ever changing creatures. Jonathan puts it this way, “We’re born free, but as we become domesticated we lose our authenticity.”
You don’t have to fall subject to the maddening conventionalism that is expected of you. You have the power to wake up excited, to work on things you love, and to reclaim your dreams.
Last year I took a trip around the world. After six months of adventure that took me from an animal sanctuary in Costa Rica to a school in rural Thailand, I was changed forever. I was invigorated with a sense of life and adventure I had been missing.
Sadly, most human experience is predictable and no longer intimate. Clothes, cars and houses shield us from the sensations of life. Fear and patterns hold us back from the adventure we long for. Henry David Thoreau once observed, “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.”
The simplest thing you can do to break out of any routine is to try something new. Challenge yourself with an adventure that wakes you up to the destructive nature of our system and your true nature as an oscillating and brilliantly unpredictable organism.
And this doesn’t have to be something as life changing as a world trip, although I highly recommend it. Adventure can manifest itself in many ways… In the form of a new food, a run in the rain, or a small trip somewhere new.
By challenging ourselves, by stimulating our senses with foreign experiences, we wake up from the trap of conformity. Like Neo in the Matrix, we become fully conscious only to realize how fully controlled our lives had once been.
Today many of us are finally waking up to our brilliantly varied and complex nature. Waking up to the idea that health, freedom and happiness cannot be compartmentalized into formulaic sequences. To the idea that humans need variation and new experiences. Just because most people succumb to the pull of conventionalism doesn’t mean it’s right. To quote countless mothers worldwide, “If everyone jumped off a bridge would you?”
Stand up. Cut the cord. Live your life.
About the author: When he’s not running barefoot and climbing trees, Logan runs a health and fitness blog at www.WildMovement.com. If you liked this article, he invites you to join the Wild Movement and sign up for his free e-mail newsletter.
photo courtesy of matthewvenn