Engineers tend to have a lot of fun in their lifetimes.
I know this because my late step father, Lawrence, was a quintessential one.
A microwave engineer throughout the majority of his career, and a prolific doodler of napkins, the man would be in his mid-seventies if he were still with us. The point of that last bit helps you appreciate that he actually learned how to effectively do calculus using only a slide rule as an aide.
If you have never seen one of these things, check it out HERE.
Now if you had met him chances are within a few minutes of pleasant conversation you would have been mildly charmed by his mild English accent and easy going demeanor. I supposed growing up in Trinidad while attending an English boarding school will do that to just about anyone.
However, if the interaction lasted a bit longer than that you would also likely be exposed to his wonderful way of looking at the world.
You see, engineers love problems.
Specifically… they love to solve them.
And Lawrence taught me a lesson in problem solving well over twenty years ago that I have held onto since the moment I heard it. In its essence, it is a lesson of checking ones perspective first and foremost when trying to solve any problem that you or I may be facing. It goes something like this.
“It is not that the glass is full, or that the glass is half empty… the glass is too large for its contents”
Yes, I absolutely would read that not just twice… but as many times as you need too for it to sink in.
Essentially what this recommends is to remove all assessments of a how a situation should or should not be… and instead assume that the problem is solely due to a mismatch.
And it is this concept of a mismatch that I want to touch on in this article.
You see whenever I work with someone I am always trying to understand not only the pain, problem or condition that may be driving them my way… I also want to understand how they both tend and prefer to live their life.
This is important because knowing this not only gives me insight into what they are hoping to attain out of the whole process we may be taking on…click HERE for more on that… but it also helps me understand whether what they are looking for is even possible.
You see, more often than not when someone has a physical ache, pain or problem that will not go away or just keeps coming back there is a mismatch between the way they tend to live their life… and the comfortable, capable body and mind they want.
There are certain lifestyle habits that tend to result predictably in problems.
With that, there certain lifestyle habits that despite the trade off of modern convenience result in a predictable lack of problems.
Arguably, we all have a fairly good reference point for what sort of lifestyle seems to support our optimal health, and despite all of its conveniences First World does not fit the bill.
Instead, it is actually Third World living that tends to be associated with a generally happier, healthier life… despite all of its hardships.
By Third World I do not mean getting back to the farm… I mean as close to Hunter Gatherer as any of us can get.
Now, it is not just me saying this… the science blatantly points towards it.
If you have any doubts, consider the fact that heart disease, diabetes and cancer are all observed be rarely seen in even the elderly of the these populations (1).
That said, if you wonder just how elderly these hunter gatherer societies would actually be, know that the common age of death tends to be 72… with their lives consisting of a high level of rigorous activity through these years (2).
On average a member of a hunter gatherer society gets four or more hours of rigorous activity a day.
Perhaps you are now appreciating the mismatch that I am suggesting exists in our modern day.
Maybe… just maybe… our jars are to large for our contents.
Now admittedly, living in this way is not without its hardships. Aside from the lack of modern medicine to address traumas and infections, the rate of child mortality is much higher than modern first world societies. However, for those that make through their early childhood their lives tend to be quite long, able and healthy.
And not just healthy, they also tended to be happy.
At the very least, it is well observed from current hunter gatherer populations that the incidence of depression is fairly rare. For more in this… click HERE.
And finally, there are the effects that third world living has on our faces and teeth.
Believe it or not, it is not just that the incidence of cavities is rare in these populations… it there is no observed skull of both previous and modern hunter-gatherer societies that lacks perfectly straight teeth. The former is credited to the lack of simple sugars and starches in the diets of Hunter-Gatherer societies… the latter is credited to the greater amount of chewing that occurs for folks that live in these cultures.
Yes… you read that right… the soft food of our modern times has largely given us crooked teeth and poorly-aligned jaws. For more on this… click HERE.
Now, if you want to read a bit more about how the abuse of first world living can have a negative impact on our health, then feel free to click HERE. There you will be able to read a bit more in depth article I wrote a few years back about this very thing.
However, if you want the summarized, whittled down big take-away message then may I offer the following…
What is comes down to is this…
If you want a good, comfortable life with a capable body and mind to move through it… be sure to insert as much third world living into it as you can.
Live, work and play when the Sun is up… and sleep when it is dark…
Eat food… real food… not too much, and mostly plants… and chew it alot…
Be deeply invested in a community, ideally fostering life long relationships…
No, you cannot sit all day and hope to feel comfortable at the end of it.
No, you cannot solely move with rigor just on the weekends and have any chance of avoiding massive deconditioning.
No, you cannot only move in a single preferred manner without dependably molding yourself into that specialized shape or expression. There is far more that makes up the physical capacity of a human being beyond just running, cycling, yoga, power lifting or yes… even pickle ball.
All of us, without exception must move every day, for most of your day… in both moderate, varying and rigorous ways.
If you do these things, and avoid taking vacations from these things, then chances are you will be not only be in possession of a comfortable and capable body… but also a fairly happy self.
I hope you found the above helpful, and I hope you are comfortable, able and well.
- Gardner C, et al “Public Health for the Hunter Gatherer in us all” Can J Public Health. 2020 Oct; 111(5): 701–704 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32761544/
- Gurven M, Kaplan H. “Longevity among hunter-gatherers: A cross-cultural examination”. Population and Development Review. 2007;33(2):321–365. doi: 10.1111/j.1728-4457.2007.00171