I’m a little behind the times on this one, but no less excited to tell you about it. Mark Sisson’s new book, The Primal Connection, is everything I hoped it would be and everything we have come to expect from one of our valiant leaders. This book really got me thinking, and I will certainly read it again. It’s not a diet and exercise book, but instead it’s a big-picture look at all the other ways in which our modern world contradicts what our bodies understand about life and how to live it. I must say, this book desperately needed to be written because it is human nature to refine our point of view repeatedly until it is far too narrow and we end up saying things like, “just exercise more to get healthy.” Or even, “just eat paleo to get healthy.” In reality, the fast track to peak health, and therefore an amazing body, can best be reached by truly understanding ALL of the inputs that affect our health, rather than trying to find a magic bullet answer that will give us the results we want. Maybe even more importantly, The Primal Connection also peers deeply into our psychological health and well being by examining how our behaviors and routines affect the biochemistry behind our happiness, or lack thereof. If you are perpetually unhappy in this mixed up world, it may be hard to accomplish any kind of goal aimed at improving yourself.
This enlightening tour of our own needs is broken into sections titled The Inner Dialogue Connection, The Body Connection, The Nature Connection, The Daily Rhythm Connection, The Social Connection, and The Play Connection.
The Inner Dialogue Connection is where we learn how to sidestep the ridiculous stream of negative chatter most of us have playing in the our minds in every waking moment of our lives. To help remove this clutter, Sisson gives us The 10 Habits of Highly Successful Hunter-Gatherers. I must admit, when I read these tips I felt as if they were written just for me. More than once I found myself stalling out and staring off into space as I was forced to come to terms with some of the silly behaviors I have allowed to stand between me and more happiness. I definitely had multiple “Duh! Why haven’t I figured this out before??” moments in this section.
In The Body Connection, we learn how our bodies were intended to be used, not in an exercise sense, but in the things we are always doing. It all seems so perfectly logical after reading this book, but it’s funny how easy it is to overlook the negative effects of sitting in chairs and always wearing shoes, and it’s interesting that so many of us believe we can fix these things with an hour in the gym every couple of days. This section opened my eyes to some simple methods to begin reversing a lifetime of bad habits in the daily use of my body.
The Nature Connection spoke to my soul. It made me want to get outside more often, even in the lousy weather of winter in the Northwest US. Sisson presents some compelling evidence and observations in support of our need to be in touch with nature. I think it’s easy to let our man-made bubbles encase us a little too tightly, and it is nice to be reminded that we are part of nature and need regular reconnect opportunities if we are to thrive. I especially appreciated his advice on how to really sense the world around us when we are in nature. I imagine I am like most people in that I zone out a little too much when I hike and I should be soaking it all in before returning to my zoo animal life.
The Daily Rhythm Connection discusses the importance of the the cyclic aspects of our lives, like the sun and sleep, but it also addresses our tendency to get lost in multitasking and useless information overload. I do not know a single person who does not need to read this section. We all seem to be moving really fast, yet accomplishing little, and most of what we are accomplishing contributes nothing to our happiness and well being. Here, Mr. Sisson forces these realizations upon us and challenges us to make some very logical corrections.
The Social Connection made me realize how far we have drifted from the lifestyle that developed our social nature. Tribal life, and the relationships it created, was very different from the way we live today, yet we still posses the same needs that were so beneficial to us all those generations ago. Whereas we used to begin and end each day in a large group of mostly immediate and extended family, we now can pass through our entire lives with very little personal contact with people we truly care about and who truly care about us. Sisson gives us some excellent advice on how to close the gaps that may surround us.
Finally, in The Play Connection we are reminded that we learn and sharpen so much of what makes us human when we play. Nearly everyone is guilty of only engaging in any form of play when there is some sort of outcome to which we can become attached, like scores, times, and personal records. For me, I felt like this section gave me license to lose myself in play a little more by reminding me that it’s good for my body and my mind. Of the many things this book taught me, this one is near the top of my list. I don’t want to look back on my life from my death bed and see that I was always to busy to play. For those of us who have forgotten how, we are offered some great ideas.
In summary, I’d like to point out that I think you need to read this book, but you also need to give it a chance to really soak in. Don’t blast through it without taking time to ruminate on each section and how it might apply to your life. More than once I found that I could have easily overlooked a real gem of information by assuming it didn’t apply to me and moving on without any introspection. I honestly believe that The Primal Connection contains accurate instructions for being happier, even if you are already happy. Read it, apply it, and then let me know what you think on my Facebook page.
Go forth and be awesome.