You Are Not a Machine; How to Stop Compartmentalizing Your Life

You Are Not a Machine; How to Stop Compartmentalizing Your Life

 

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.

Exercise

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.

Work

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.

Experience

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.

Final Thoughts

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

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Comment & Add Your Voice

rewirebusiness August 18, 2011 at 3:08 pm

Logan – this is great stuff. I love the idea of certain things not being compartmentalized. I think we try to often to box everything up into a pretty little package because it feels safe. I myself, try to help people each day realize that the typical work/life template is really just something we are told to follow.

Conventionalism, in my mind, is kind of the easy way out – – – or rather the path of least resistance.

Reply

Logan Marshall August 18, 2011 at 4:02 pm

@rewirebusiness I agree. But while it may appear this way on the surface — safer, easier — in reality, living this way is incredibly soul deadening and creates unrest and suffering in so many people.

So, while it certainly seems safer, I believe that choosing not to follow your dreams, not to lay it all on the line, and not to enjoy life to the fullest is actually a path of HUGE (primarily internal) resistance.

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rewirebusiness August 18, 2011 at 4:41 pm

@Logan Marshall@rewirebusiness Logan. Wow! You really read my mind (or you read my article today, which is unlikely) :)

I completely agree with you and today I had to finally write and tell people that going out on your own is great and all but there are emotional highs and lows and this is the stuff you aren”t told very often.

It can be very unrestful at times – – but when I think of the alternative, I have to ask myself what is more damaging? Going the safe route or taking the risk?

If interested: http://www.rewirebusiness.com/entrepreneurship/one-thing-about-entrepreneurship-that-you-wont-be-prepared-for-and-why-i-almost-quit-today/

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jaemin.yi August 18, 2011 at 11:10 pm

Love this post. It seems to me that as we’ve “evolved” since our caveman days, we’ve let our mind and thoughts take over, instead of our instincts.

I feel like in all 3 categories – work, exercise/play, experience – most people think too much and try to figure out everything with their head. But maybe if we just paid attention to our heart – to what our body wants to do, we’d probably live healthier, more natural, and yes, more fun lives.Thanks for giving me some thoughts to chew on :)

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JonathanMead August 19, 2011 at 7:07 am

@jaemin.yi What’s crazy is when we start to develop strict regimens for diet and exercise that stress us out and actually make us *less* healthy. Health should never be lost in the pursuit of itself, but it often is. I think in general, happy people are healthier people.

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JonathanMead August 19, 2011 at 7:08 am

Thanks Logan for contributing here and sharing your message with our readers. You’re doing some really great work and I think there’s a lot of people out there that will be deeply affected by what you do.

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Logan Marshall August 19, 2011 at 7:26 am

@JonathanMead@jaemin.yi Exactly! The very things that are supposed to make us healthier, stronger, and happier have turned into boring and formulaic routines that that actually backfire on people. Yes, physical movement is still good for you. But when it’s surrounded by stress, anger and a lack of excitement these benefits are largely reduced.

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Logan Marshall August 19, 2011 at 7:27 am

@JonathanMead@jaemin.yi Exactly! The very things that are supposed to make us healthier, stronger, and happier have turned into boring and formulaic routines that that actually backfire on people. Yes, physical movement and healthy eating are still good for you. But when they are surrounded by stress, anger and a lack of excitement these benefits are largely reduced.

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yTravelBlog August 20, 2011 at 2:07 am

Love this post! so makes perfect sense/.

I’m 100% behind you on the experience part I’ve been living and travelling around the world for 14 years. Now I am addicted to experiences. The only way to live. It’s all about the memories

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berenguel August 20, 2011 at 4:29 am

Hi Logan,

the post is interesting, but there is something that felt like a stab: <quote>In fact, exercise is a lot like math: Both are formulaic, rigidly uncreative, and cause many people great pain.</quote>

You know, I’m a mathematician. And maths is not “formulaic” or “rigidly uncreative”. If it was formulaic I would only need to use my memory to memorise “something”. Not the case. If it was “rigidly uncreative”, there would not be so many interesting papers out there, combining old thoughts with new tools to generate new ideas.

Ruben

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Logan Marshall August 20, 2011 at 5:49 am

@yTravelBlog I totally agree! I’ve found that it feels like I can pack ten years of living into 6 months when I’m traveling. When you’re home you get into a routine and the years just seem to slip by. But when you’re on the road — meeting new people and having new and exciting experiences every day… it feels like you’re making the most of life. Like you said, It’s all about the memories :)

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AngelaArtemis August 20, 2011 at 7:13 am

Hi Logan,

This was terrific. I agree with you. I’m one of those people who is bored by going to the gym. The idea of going somewhere stinky to work on a bunch of sweat-soaked machines for an hour is not appealing at all. I much prefer the outdoors and even my own little basement gym where I can do 15 minutes at a time and then do something else that needs doing around the house before going back down for another boring 15 minutes. Between walking, housework and yard work I get plenty of “natural” exercise. Thanks for the great article.

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Logan Marshall August 20, 2011 at 7:48 am

@AngelaArtemis And, because of these sweaty and boring gyms, most people think of exercise as a chore that must be completed for the sake of health but rarely enjoyed. Movement has transformed from something explorative and highly enjoyable to a boring, formulaic and rigid sequence of “exercises” that crush the motivation and enthusiasm of so many people.

My goal is to present people with a fun, creative AND effective way of achieving their fitness goals.

Thanks for the comment Angela!

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planetnaveeni August 20, 2011 at 11:11 am

This is awesome Logan. One of the best posts I have ever come across. It tells lots of things. I loved the background you gave about human evolution and then how they became organized (or how they tied their hands with technology).

Kudos, Keep it up.

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ReneeTaylorCPA August 20, 2011 at 2:03 pm

Logan,

I’ve been subscribed to your blog for a couple months, and I also recently purchased your Wild Movement Guide. I love the guide, but what I really want to say here is — I LOVED this post. I think you did an outstanding job of speaking your message in the language of Jonathan’s audience. Bravo! Keep up the good work.

(And Jonathan, thanks for letting Logan write a guest post!)

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DhargeyKhandro August 20, 2011 at 2:43 pm

Reading this was perfect for my day. So perfect, in fact, that I had to link it in my own blog post. I found it very insightful. Thanks for the wonderful post Logan.

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Logan Marshall August 20, 2011 at 8:56 pm

@ReneeTaylorCPA Thanks do much for the kind words Renee! It’s always great to hear that my work is positively affecting someone :)

Reply

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