Thursday, September 26, 2019

The Insanity of Consumerism


Somewhere along the way the American Dream became defined by owning more stuff than your neighbor. Is that the new truth? Do we need a bigger house and a better car to find happiness? Does it come about when we sacrifice our dreams for the pursuit of stuff?


By CHARLOTTE MILLS
ModernDayMagi

People have individual lives and experiences, thoughts, feelings, ambitions and passions. Full reliance on marketing practices like ABC1 grouping and demographics etc are beyond antiquated, they are insulting. 

Any ‘glitches’ in trends or expectations referred to as ‘anomalies’ would only go to prove the theories’ own redundancy. Marketing companies and corporations who pedal this practice and terminology only go to show they have little understanding of human behavior, after all, we are not pre-programmed machines. 

However, it proves a second issue. Referring to the meaning of consumption and it’s a mismatched relationship with a real economy, iterating and encouraging consumption without regard is fueling an ecological disaster.



Advertising and marketing agencies are among the worst offenders. Pitching their services to prospective clients through their websites, they’ll insist on the importance of aiming and targeting consumers and of course, increasing one’s share of the market. So hypothetically, not only do we have metaphorical targets on our backs for the benefit of businesses, but we’re subtly termed as cattle too, herded from one commodity and trend to the next. To some agencies, people are mere walking and talking dollar signs. Discarded plastics floating in the ocean.

Today we live in a world whereby 2050, plastics in our ocean will outnumber fish. This statistic is frightening. The fact that we live on a beautiful, Eden-like paradise which we continue to exploit at an alarming rate is beggars belief. And for what? Cheap chocolate? A popular brand? More sex appeal? For the advances we have achieved technologically as a species, our behavior is still rather primitive.

So who’s to blame? To look for the guilty we have only to look into a mirror. Companies have a duty to be responsible and to treat the planet and its life with the utmost respect, and marketing agencies must exercise moral practices where they refer to people with diligence and not mere statistics. 

However, the entire global system as we know it is propped up by people’s consumer habits. We have a choice to live in a better, cleaner world, and that can be decided upon what we take to the till. From how we choose to spend money, companies could make or break, whether they are willing to change their ways and listen to people’s concerns.

What this proves is the power of a simple word, and how issues can arise if they’re poorly handled. Yes consumption has been an activity for centuries in its various ways, but over the last 200 years (especially the post-war boom in the 1940s/50s) pillaging the planet has not just become a daily routine, it’s big business. Thankfully sustainable development movements have become more mainstream, but more needs to be done.

The truth at the time of writing is that Planet Earth could survive without people, but people couldn’t survive without Planet Earth. The actions of people can have far-reaching consequences. If you want to play a part in tomorrow’s world, engage in research, get involved in debates, say what you know, and think of what you say.


It won't be long before our freshwater lakes, rivers and oceans will not be able to sustain life.


























Wednesday, May 15, 2019

These gorgeous tiny houses can operate entirely off the grid


It can even generate its own water

In a factory in Nevada, a large 3D printer prints the pieces of new prefab tiny homes that can work fully off the grid. When complete, the houses will run on solar power, including heating and cooling. 


An optional system generates water from moisture in the outdoor air so it isn’t necessary to connect to a city water supply. In the bathroom, the home is among the first in the U.S. to use a new shower that cleans and recycles water.






The house, from a startup called PassivDom, is designed to use as few resources as possible. The company didn’t initially aim to create an off-the-grid home, but realized it was possible as it experimented with materials to improve energy efficiency, landing on a polymer composite.





Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Have you ever thought about re-thinking your life?



Whenever people are asked at the end of their life about what they wish they’d done more of or spent more time doing, never is it that they wished they’d squeezed in an extra few hours working for their ungrateful boss and never is it that they wish they’d saved up more money.

It is ALWAYS that they wished they’d seen a part of the world they never got to visit, that they’d spent more time with the people they love, that they’d gone after something they had always wanted to do or try, that they’d told someone how they really felt, and that they’d simply had more fun, laughed more, and worried less.

If you can relate to this, and have thought about re-thinking you're life, join the Club -- you're not alone.


Subscribe to our free weekly newsletter and read what other people have done to change their life. Do you have a story you would like to share? 








Saturday, September 15, 2018

Dying for a Paycheck.

In one survey, 61 percent of employees said that workplace stress had made them sick and 7 percent said they had actually been hospitalized. Job stress costs US employers more than $300 billion annually and may cause 120,000 excess deaths each year. In China, 1 million people a year may be dying from overwork. People are literally dying for a paycheck. And it needs to stop.


In this timely, provocative book, Jeffrey Pfeffer contends that many modern management commonalities such as long work hours, work-family conflict, and economic insecurity are toxic to employees—hurting engagement, increasing turnover, and destroying people’s physical and emotional health—and also inimical to company performance. He argues that human sustainability should be as important as environmental stewardship.

You don’t have to do a physically dangerous job to confront a health-destroying, possibly life-threatening, workplace. Just ask the manager in a senior finance role whose immense workload, once handled by several employees, required frequent all-nighters—leading to alcohol and drug addiction. Or the dedicated news media producer whose commitment to getting the story resulted in a sixty-pound weight gain thanks to having no down time to eat properly or exercise. Or the marketing professional prescribed antidepressants a week after joining her employer.

In Dying for a Paycheck, Jeffrey Pfeffer marshals a vast trove of evidence and numerous examples from all over the world to expose the infuriating truth about modern work life: even as organizations allow management practices that literally sicken and kill their employees, those policies do not enhance productivity or the bottom line, thereby creating a lose-lose situation.

Exploring a range of important topics including layoffs, health insurance, work-family conflict, work hours, job autonomy, and why people remain in toxic environments, Pfeffer offers guidance and practical solutions all of us—employees, employers, and the government—can use to enhance workplace wellbeing. We must wake up to the dangers and enormous costs of today’s workplace, Pfeffer argues. Dying for a Paycheck is a clarion call for a social movement focused on human sustainability. Pfeffer makes clear that the environment we work in is just as important as the one we live in, and with this urgent book, he opens our eyes and shows how we can make our workplaces healthier and better.

Click HERE for book info




Thursday, July 5, 2018

Loneliness is just as much of a health risk as being obese

How Social Isolation Is Killing Us



Social isolation is a growing epidemic, one that’s increasingly recognized as having dire physical, mental and emotional consequences. Credit Damon Winter/The New York Times

By Dhruv Khullar
New York Times

My patient and I both knew he was dying.

Not the long kind of dying that stretches on for months or years. He would die today. Maybe tomorrow. And if not tomorrow, the next day. Was there someone I should call? Someone he wanted to see?

Not a one, he told me. No immediate family. No close friends. He had a niece down South, maybe, but they hadn’t spoken in years.

For me, the sadness of his death was surpassed only by the sadness of his solitude. I wondered whether his isolation was a driving force of his premature death, not just an unhappy circumstance.

Every day I see variations at both the beginning and end of life: a young man abandoned by friends as he struggles with opioid addiction; an older woman getting by on tea and toast, living in filth, no longer able to clean her cluttered apartment. In these moments, it seems the only thing worse than suffering a serious illness is suffering it alone.


Social isolation is a growing epidemic — one that’s increasingly recognized as having dire physical, mental and emotional consequences. Since the 1980s, the percentage of American adults who say they’re lonely has doubled from 20 percent to 40 percent.

About one-third of Americans older than 65 now live alone, and half of those over 85 do. People in poorer health — especially those with mood disorders like anxiety and depression — are more likely to feel lonely. Those without a college education are the least likely to have someone they can talk to about important personal matters.

A wave of new research suggests social separation is bad for us. Individuals with less social connection have disrupted sleep patterns, altered immune systems, more inflammation and higher levels of stress hormones. One recent study found that isolation increases the risk of heart disease by 29 percent and stroke by 32 percent.

Another analysis that pooled data from 70 studies and 3.4 million people found that socially isolated individuals had a 30 percent higher risk of dying in the next seven years, and that this effect was largest in middle age.

Loneliness can accelerate cognitive decline in older adults, and isolated individuals are twice as likely to die prematurely as those with more robust social interactions. These effects start early: Socially isolated children have significantly poorer health 20 years later, even after controlling for other factors. All told, loneliness is as important a risk factor for early death as obesity and smoking.



The evidence on social isolation is clear. What to do about it is less so.

Loneliness is an especially tricky problem because accepting and declaring our loneliness carries profound stigma. Admitting we’re lonely can feel as if we’re admitting we’ve failed in life’s most fundamental domains: belonging, love, attachment. It attacks our basic instincts to save face, and makes it hard to ask for help.

I see this most acutely during the holidays when I care for hospitalized patients, some connected to I.V. poles in barren rooms devoid of family or friends — their aloneness amplified by cheerful Christmas movies playing on wall-mounted televisions. And hospitalized or not, many people report feeling lonelier, more depressed and less satisfied with life during the holiday season.

New research suggests that loneliness is not necessarily the result of poor social skills or lack of social support, but can be caused in part by unusual sensitivity to social cues. Lonely people are more likely to perceive ambiguous social cues negatively, and enter a self-preservation mind-set — worsening the problem. In this way, loneliness can be contagious: When one person becomes lonely, he withdraws from his social circle and causes others to do the same.

Dr. John Cacioppo, a psychology professor at the University of Chicago, has tested various approaches to treat loneliness. His work has found that the most effective interventions focus on addressing “maladaptive social cognition” — that is, helping people re-examine how they interact with others and perceive social cues. He is collaborating with the United States military to explore how social cognition training can help soldiers feel less isolated while deployed and after returning home.

The loneliness of older adults has different roots — often resulting from family members moving away and close friends passing away. As one senior put it, “Your world dies before you do.”

Ideally, experts say, neighborhoods and communities would keep an eye out for such older people and take steps to reduce social isolation. Ensuring they have easy access to transportation, through discounted bus passes or special transport services, can help maintain social connections.

Religious older people should be encouraged to continue regular attendance at services and may benefit from a sense of spirituality and community, as well as the watchful eye of fellow churchgoers. Those capable of caring for an animal might enjoy the companionship of a pet. And loved ones living far away from a parent or grandparent could ask a neighbor to check in periodically.


But more structured programs are arising, too. For example, Dr. Paul Tang of the Palo Alto Medical Foundation started a program called linkAges, a cross-generational service exchange inspired by the idea that everyone has something to offer.

The program works by allowing members to post online something they want help with: guitar lessons, a Scrabble partner, a ride to the doctor’s office. Others can then volunteer their time and skills to fill these needs and “bank” hours for when they need something themselves.

“In America, you almost need an excuse for knocking on a neighbor’s door,” Dr. Tang told me. “We want to break down those barriers.”

For example, a college student might see a post from an older man who needs help gardening. She helps him plant a row of flowers and “banks” two hours in the process. A few months later, when she wants to cook a Malaysian meal for her boyfriend, a retired chef comes by to give her cooking lessons.

“You don’t need a playmate every day,” Dr. Tang said. “But knowing you’re valued and a contributing member of society is incredibly reaffirming.”

The program now has hundreds of members in California and plans to expand to other areas of the country.

“We in the medical community have to ask ourselves: Are we controlling blood pressure or improving health and well-being?” Dr. Tang said. “I think you have to do the latter to do the former.”

A great paradox of our hyper-connected digital age is that we seem to be drifting apart. Increasingly, however, research confirms our deepest intuition: Human connection lies at the heart of human well-being. It’s up to all of us — doctors, patients, neighborhoods and communities — to maintain bonds where they’re fading, and create ones where they haven’t existed.

..............................................................................................................

Dhruv Khullar, M.D., M.P.P., is a resident physician at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School. Follow him on Twitter at @DhruvKhullar.

The Upshot provides news, analysis and graphics about politics, policy and everyday life. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Sign up for our newsletter.




Friday, May 11, 2018

He’s Never Been Happier to Have no Idea Where He’s Headed.


Joe Hawley retired from NFL. Then he moved into van and hit road in search of new path

Tom Schad, USA TODAY Sports

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. — For eight years, Joe Hawley's life followed an inescapable rhythm — the monotony of practice, film study and offseason workouts, all of it on a seemingly endless loop. The NFL dictated where he had to be and what he had to do. It wrecked his body. It consumed his life.

"It’s very structured. My whole life has been like that," Hawley says. "I felt like I just kind of wanted to experience life, be free."

So when Hawley's career came to an end at 29 — a finish line he saw coming long before the Tampa Bay Buccaneers declined to renew his contract this spring — the former offensive lineman decided to adjust course.

Hawley moved out of his Tampa apartment and donated most of his belongings to charity. He sold his Mercedes-Benz C300 coupe and purchased a 2007 Ford E-350 cargo van. He shed almost 50 pounds on an unusual diet that has him putting slices of butter in his coffee. He adopted a 2-year-old boxer mix from a shelter and aptly named her "Freedom." And now, he plans to spend the next however-many months driving around the country and living out of his van — meeting new people, exploring different regions and blogging about the whole thing.

To say that Hawley is at a crossroads in his life is probably a bit dramatic. He prefers to describe all of this as an adventure or, more broadly, the first step in a “huge transition” away from football — the pursuit of "my next dream."

One of his former teammates, however, had a different word for it.

"I thought he was crazy," Alan Cross said with a laugh.

At its core, Hawley’s trip is really just an attempt to re-prioritize his life — to dedicate his time and energy to the things that matter, all while attempting to fill the void that 16 years of football left behind.

"(You try) to be great at something and put your mind to something. It just goes away," Hawley told USA TODAY Sports from the couch in his van, roughly two months after he effectively retired from the NFL. "So you have to figure out: What else can I be great at?"


'I got to live a kid's dream'

At a campsite along the banks of Lake Lanier in northern Georgia, Hawley seasons four ribeye steaks with salt and pepper and arranges them on the grill.

It's a breezy, overcast Wednesday morning, and he's insisted on cooking lunch.

"How do you guys like your steaks?" he asks.

Hawley has kept the grizzly beard from his playing days, but he's a slim shadow of the offensive lineman he once was.

A fourth-round pick out of UNLV in the 2010 NFL draft, he spent the first five seasons of his career with the Atlanta Falcons. Then he followed former offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter to Tampa Bay, where he started 29 games in two years before moving into a backup role.

All told, Hawley played 93 games and earned a little more than $13 million in his career.

"I always gave him a hard time about being the instigator," said Koetter, who is now the head coach of the Buccaneers. "Joe was that guy who was always around the pile, was always trying to get the defense mad at him, trying to get them off their game."

Hawley was smart and relentless, former teammates said, but his career was littered with injuries. Today, he says he doesn't have any cartilage left in either of his knees, which grind and pop as he moves. He's got bone spurs in both ankles. Torn labrums in both shoulders. A bulging disc in his neck. And a hip that he describes only as "pretty messed up."

The mental side of the NFL also started to weigh on him — the anxiety that comes with always having to be at your best. Hawley says he lost 10 pounds last season due to a series of ulcers, which he believes were stress-related. His older sister, Ashleigh Stone, said he was so emotionally wrapped up in football that sometimes "you couldn’t even talk to him."

"I think this pressure of the NFL, it was ruining him," she said.

Last season, Hawley's role was more or less to mentor Ali Marpet, a 24-year-old guard, as he switched positions and took Hawley's job. In past years, Hawley would've been determined and fighting to get back onto the field. This time, it was different.

Midway through the season, he was already thinking about purchasing a converted bus or van and hitting the road.

"I’m so grateful I got to live a kid’s dream," Hawley says. "A lot of people just grind it out because they want to make more money. I have plenty of money to be happy. And I want to challenge myself to do something new."


On the road again

By early afternoon, the steaks are gone, the van has been packed and Hawley is drying off Freedom with a beach towel after she jumped in Lake Lanier. He shakes his head.

“What are you doing, girl?” he says with a chuckle. “You’re soaked.”

Hawley knows they need to get back on the road if they hope to get to Pensacola, Fla., before dark. He will join children with cancer in a fashion show that doubles as a fundraiser for the Rally Foundation — one of several events in these first few months that have kept him tied to the southeastern part of the country.

Hawley has only been on the road for a month, but he's already grown comfortable with the tricked-out, four-wheel-drive diesel he now calls home. He bought it used for about $55,000 and paid another $15,000 or so to customize it. Among the most notable features are a 16-gallon fresh water tank, tiny sink, mini-fridge, pop-top roof, solar panels, retractable awning and customized front bumper.




Hawley packs up his van at the Old Federal Campground on Lake Lanier in Flowery Branch, Ga., before heading to Pensacola, Fla. (Photo: Jason Getz, USA TODAY SPORTS)

Freedom cranes her neck out of the passenger side window as they leave the campground, and before long, Hawley is streaming an afternoon baseball game between the Houston Astros and Los Angeles Angels through the van's sound system as he drives. He’ll switch to the Washington Nationals game later simply because Max Scherzer is on his fantasy team.

"Watching him pitch will make you fall in love with baseball," he says.

Until recently, Hawley thought he had a good sense of where his life was headed: He was going to marry his girlfriend of five years, retire and become a football coach. Then he wound up walking away from that relationship and discovering that he’s “kind of footballed out,” at least for the time being.

This particular week, for example, talk of the NFL draft has consumed the sports world. “I could give two (expletives) about it,” Hawley says. Maybe he'll enjoy watching as a fan when the new NFL season starts, he adds. But for now, he'd rather stick to baseball.

Behind all of Hawley’s excitement about living on the road, there’s also a lingering fear that it will get lonely. That’s one of the main reasons why he got Freedom. He always knew he wanted a co-pilot for his trip, and his ex-fiancée kept their old dog. He found Freedom shaking in fear in the back of her cage at the Hillsborough County Pet Resource Center and figured any dog who hated being cooped up that much would be grateful for a nomadic lifestyle.

"Outhouse to the penthouse," he says while scratching her neck and smiling. "Or, uh, the van house."
Living with less

The sun is beginning to set when Hawley's van pulls into a Jet Pep gas station off Route 113 in rural Alabama. One of the cupboards on the inside of the back door came unhinged as he drove through Atlanta, so he scrounges around the van for his screwdriver and tightens it back into place.

"If this is the worst thing that happens to me on the road, I'll be a lucky man," he says before dropping a chunk of cocoa butter into a cup of gas-station coffee.

Hawley always wanted to be skinny. He wanted to have a six-pack. But the NFL demanded that he pack 300 pounds onto his 6-foot-3 frame. Since retiring, he says, he’s lost nearly 50 pounds thanks to an unusual ketogenic diet that’s high on fats and low on carbs — the sort of thing that usually prompts a “wait, what?” among non-believers. He eats a lot of meats, eggs, almonds and butter while losing weight and, he claims, thinking more clearly.



Former NFL player Joe Hawley visits Pensacola Beach with his dog, Freedom. (Photo: Tony Giberson, USA TODAY NETWORK)






Hawley has also adopted a minimalist lifestyle in retirement, using a philosophy of “live with less, experience more” to de-clutter his life.

"You don’t realize how much (expletive) you have until you try to get rid of it," Hawley says. "If you buy something new, it fills you with all this excitement, but that fades so quickly. Next thing you know, you want something else new to fill that void. And then it’s a cycle."

In the months since donating most of his possessions, and about 70% of his wardrobe, Hawley says it's like "a physical weight" has been lifted.

"I think there’s the common misconception of people that are in the NFL — that they’re all ballers, they all want to live extravagant lifestyles," his older sister, Ashleigh, said. "(With Hawley), it wasn’t a big jump, if that makes sense. … He always kind of lived a really conservative lifestyle."

A co-pilot named Freedom
A little more than six hours and 380 miles after leaving his campsite off the lake, Hawley arrives in Pensacola, Fla., just before 8 p.m., parking the van at an RV resort near the beach. He grabs dinner at a nearby sports bar — plus a coffee with butter to go — and returns to site No. 72, where Freedom has been patiently waiting in the back of the van.

Hawley isn’t sure exactly how to describe the void that football leaves behind, but he says it’s a tangible, physical feeling. He mentally prepared for this moment for years, and still found himself unprepared. He’s chosen to combat feelings of uncertainty and self-doubt by not just diving into his trip but also visually documenting it.

In addition to his “Man Van Dog Blog” — which, among other video entries, includes an MTV Cribs-style tour of his van — Hawley has already racked up more than 13,000 followers on Instagram, most of them people who want to follow his travels — and, in some cases, be a part of them. Since he hit the road April 4, he’s already received unsolicited offers for dog dates, places to stay, random meet-ups and everything in-between.

“What a time to be alive. Seriously,” he says. “Doing this 20 years ago would be like me out there on the road... figuring it out.”

And, just to be clear, there’s certainly still some of that.

"It’s not something everybody does. Not something hardly anybody does," Koetter said. "But Joe is definitely a unique individual and his own man. I think it’s a really cool thing what he’s doing."

Joe Hawley cooks steaks for lunch with his dog Freedom at the Old Federal Campground on Lake Lanier in Flowery Branch, Ga. The grill was given to him and all the other offensive lineman by Tampa Bay quarterback Jameis Winston. (Photo: Jason Getz, USA TODAY SPORTS)

Hawley doesn’t have a planned route as he zig-zags across the country this summer, but he does have a few stops in mind. He wants to see Glacier National Park in Montana and Redwood National Park in his home state, California. Niagara Falls, too. Baseball stadiums. Lots of baseball stadiums. And he wants to stop at children's hospitals along the route and hand out toys to kids.

"He’s the ultimate free spirit," former teammate and close friend Mike Johnson said. "You look at his beard, you can kind of see his personality."

Hawley still isn’t sure where he’ll travel, or for how long. He wonders if he’ll get lonely. Shoot, he wonders if he’ll just get sick of living out of a van. But that’s OK, he says. After eight years in the NFL, he can afford to wander. And, with Freedom as his co-pilot, he’s never been happier to have no idea where he’s headed.



Reprinted with permission from USATODAY. Contact Tom Schad at tschad@usatoday.com or on Twitter @Tom_Schad.




Thursday, March 29, 2018

Depression is A Disease of Civilization: Hunter-Gatherers Hold the Key to the Cure

This is an excellent article by Sara Burrows. It describes exactly what our Break Away, Live Small website is all about and why, if left unchecked, depression can destroy your life. It also provides ideas for a cure through exercise, social connections and self-sustaining communal living.

“We were never designed for the sedentary, indoor, socially isolated, fast-food-laden, sleep-deprived frenzied pace of modern life.”

I hope you read the entire article and follow the links to similar articles. Then read it again.


By: Sara Burrows

Depression is a global epidemic. It is the main driver behind suicide, which now claims more than a million lives per year worldwide. One in four Americans will suffer from clinical depression within their lifetimes, and the rate is increasing with every generation.



It robs people of sleep, energy, focus, memory, sex drive and their basic ability to experience the pleasures of life, says author of The Depression Cure Stephen Ildari. It can destroy people’s desire to love, work, play and even their will to live. If left unchecked it can cause permanent brain damage.

Depression lights up the pain circuitry of the brain to such an extent that many of Ildari’s psychiatric patients have called it torment, agony and torture. “Many begin to look to death as a welcome means of escape,” he said in a Ted Talks presentation.

But depression is not a natural disease. It is not an inevitable part of being human. Ildari argues, like many diseases, depression is a disease of civilization. It’s a disease caused by a high-stress, industrialized, modern lifestyle that is incompatible with our genetic evolution.

Depression is the result of a prolonged stress-response, Ildari said. The brain’s “runaway stress response” – as he calls it – is similar to the fight or flight response, which evolved to help our ancestors when they faced predators or other physical dangers. The runaway stress response required intense physical activity for a few seconds, a few minutes, or – in extreme cases – a few hours.

“The problem is for many people throughout the Western world, the stress response goes on for weeks, months and even years at a time, and when it does that, it’s incredibly toxic,” Ildari said.

Living under continually stressful conditions – as many modern humans do – is disruptive to neuro-chemicals like dopamine and seratonin, which can lead to sleep disturbance, brain damage, immune dysregulation and inflammation, Ildari says.

Civilization is the disease

Epidemiologists have now identified a long list of other stress-related diseases as “diseases of civilization” – diabetes, atherosclerosis, asthma, allergies, obesity and cancer. These diseases are rampant throughout the developed world, but virtually non-existent among modern-day aboriginal peoples.

In a study of 2000 Kaluli aborigines from Papua New Guinea, only one marginal case of clinical depression was found. Why? Because the Kaluli lifestyle is very similar to our hunter-gatherer ancestors’ lifestyle that lasted for nearly 2 million years before agriculture, Ildari said.

“99.9 percent of the human experience was lived in a hunter-gatherer context,” he added. “Most of the selection pressures that have sculpted and shaped our genomes are really well adapted for that environment and that lifestyle.”

In view of nearly 3 million years of hominid existence, since homo habilis first began use of stone tools, our genus has undergone rapid environmental change since the advent of agriculture about 12,000 years ago. And in the last 200 years, since the industrial revolution, our species has had to cope with what Ildari calls “radical environmental mutation.”

While our environment has radically mutated, our human genome is essentially the same as it was 200 years ago, Ildari says. “That’s only eight generations. It’s not enough time [for significant genetic adaptations].”

“There’s a profound mismatch between the genes we carry, the bodies and brains that they are building, and the world that we find ourselves in,” he said. “We were never designed for the sedentary, indoor, socially isolated, fast-food-laden, sleep-deprived frenzied pace of modern life.”

The Cure

Though he’s not entirely opposed to medication, Ildari says we can throw all the drugs in the world at the depression epidemic, and it won’t make a dent.

Anti depressant use has gone up 300 percent in the last 20 years, but the rate of depression has continued to increase. One in nine Americans over age 12 is currently taking an antidepressant, and one in five have been on them at some point.

The answer, Ildari says, is a change in lifestyle. He says the results of his six step program have exceeded his wildest dreams:

1. Exercise

2. Omega 3 Fatty Acids

3. Sunlight

4. Healthy Sleep

5. Anti-ruminative activity

6. Social connection

In his presentation, he emphasized the importance of exercise and social connection, as they are two of the hardest parts of the program for modern Americans.

Exercise is ‘not natural’

Ildari says the results of exercise on depression are so powerful that if they could be reduced into a pill, it would be the most expensive pill on earth. The problem is 60 percent of American adults get no regular physical activity. Ildari says it’s not their fault. Between long days at work and household and family responsibilities to attend to, who has the time or energy to hit the gym?

The dirty little secret about exercise, Ildari says, is “it is not natural.” We are designed to be physically active “in the service of adapted goals,” not to exercise on a hamster wheel.

Hunter gatherers get four or more hours of vigorous physical activity every day, but if you ask them they will tell you they don’t exercise, Ildari says. “They don’t work out. Working out would be crazy to them. They live.”

“When you put a lab rat on a treadmill … it will squat down on it’s haunches, and the treadmill starts to rub the fur and the skin right off it’s back side,” he said. “When you stare at a piece of exercise equipment, there is a part of your brain that’s screaming out ‘Don’t do it! You’re not going anywhere!'”

If you can’t go out gathering your own nuts and berries or hunting your own meat, Ildari recommends brisk walking with a friend. Walking for 30 minutes, three times a week, has better effects on depression than Zoloft, he said.

Social Connection

Another huge factor in modern depression is the lack of social connection in our modern nuclear-family bubbles. “Face-time with our loved ones puts the breaks on our stress response,” Ildari says.

The problem is we’ve replaced face-time with screen-time. “Our hunter gatherer ancestors spent all day every day in the company of their loved ones.”

Unfortunately illness, including mental illness, triggers people to isolate themselves, which only makes depression worse.

“Resist the urge to withdraw,” Ildari says, “because when you’re ill, your body tells you to shut down and pull away. When you have the flu, that’s adaptive. When you have depression, it’s the worst thing in the world you could do.”

Rewilding and Tribal Living

What Ildari didn’t mention in his Ted Talk is how difficult his cure is for most modern humans to attain. Sure, we’d all like more fresh air, sunlight, exercise, a better diet, better sleep, less monotonous work, and more interaction with loved ones, but who has time for all that?

I’m stuck here staring at my screen typing about it in an effort to make a living for myself, and many of you don’t even have time to read this article because you have 50+ hours-a-week jobs of your own. Meanwhile, immediate-return hunter-gatherers work an average of 17 hours a week. In this world, we certainly can’t just quit our jobs to be less stressed, when the financial stress would create more stress.

In my opinion, the answer lies in baby steps. Baby steps away from dependence on civilization, and toward nature, earth skills, and self-sustaining communal living. These are things I plan to learn more about while building this website. I’m excited to share what I learn with you, and hope you’ll share your knowledge with me.

Sara Burrows

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

The Insanity of Consumerism


Somewhere along the way the American Dream became defined by owning more stuff than your neighbor. Is that the new truth? Do we need a bigger house and a better car to find happiness? Does it come about when we sacrifice our dreams for the pursuit of stuff?


By CHARLOTTE MILLS
ModernDayMagi

People have individual lives and experiences, thoughts, feelings, ambitions and passions. Full reliance on marketing practices like ABC1 grouping and demographics etc are beyond antiquated, they are insulting. 

Any ‘glitches’ in trends or expectations referred to as ‘anomalies’ would only go to prove the theories’ own redundancy. Marketing companies and corporations who pedal this practice and terminology only go to show they have little understanding of human behavior, after all, we are not pre-programmed machines. 

However, it proves a second issue. Referring to the meaning of consumption and it’s a mismatched relationship with a real economy, iterating and encouraging consumption without regard is fueling an ecological disaster.



Advertising and marketing agencies are among the worst offenders. Pitching their services to prospective clients through their websites, they’ll insist on the importance of aiming and targeting consumers and of course, increasing one’s share of the market. So hypothetically, not only do we have metaphorical targets on our backs for the benefit of businesses, but we’re subtly termed as cattle too, herded from one commodity and trend to the next. To some agencies, people are mere walking and talking dollar signs. Discarded plastics floating in the ocean.

Today we live in a world whereby 2050, plastics in our ocean will outnumber fish. This statistic is frightening. The fact that we live on a beautiful, Eden-like paradise which we continue to exploit at an alarming rate is beggars belief. And for what? Cheap chocolate? A popular brand? More sex appeal? For the advances we have achieved technologically as a species, our behavior is still rather primitive.

So who’s to blame? To look for the guilty we have only to look into a mirror. Companies have a duty to be responsible and to treat the planet and its life with the utmost respect, and marketing agencies must exercise moral practices where they refer to people with diligence and not mere statistics. 

However, the entire global system as we know it is propped up by people’s consumer habits. We have a choice to live in a better, cleaner world, and that can be decided upon what we take to the till. From how we choose to spend money, companies could make or break, whether they are willing to change their ways and listen to people’s concerns.

What this proves is the power of a simple word, and how issues can arise if they’re poorly handled. Yes consumption has been an activity for centuries in its various ways, but over the last 200 years (especially the post-war boom in the 1940s/50s) pillaging the planet has not just become a daily routine, it’s big business. Thankfully sustainable development movements have become more mainstream, but more needs to be done.

The truth at the time of writing is that Planet Earth could survive without people, but people couldn’t survive without Planet Earth. The actions of people can have far-reaching consequences. If you want to play a part in tomorrow’s world, engage in research, get involved in debates, say what you know, and think of what you say.



























Friday, January 19, 2018

Considering the Van life? Taking roads less traveled? Here's a great start.



The U.S. is one of the fastest growing van markets in the world. It has become the second-largest single market for the Sprinter in terms of unit sales, after Germany. 

One of the reasons for this growing market is because people across the globe are choosing to seek a better life, away from the traditional 9-5 jobs, insane mortgages, high rents and sitting in traffic for most of their lives, going back and forth to a job they hate. And the Van Life has become very appealing and a great option for many adventuresome people who simply just want to get away. 



There are several great companies selling the Sprinter vans, or if you already have a Sprinter but need help converting it to living OUT THERE, here's a great place to start. Sprinter RV.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Obesity will soon overtake smoking as the principle cause cancer


Recent studies continue to shed light on how everyday cycling is not only good for our cardiovascular health but also a way to save billions in health care costs. While everyday cycling is starting to be recognized as a low-impact form of exercise there remains resistance to accepting riding a bike as a form of preventive health care across North America.

Clearly, biking is advantageous for one’s physical health. It’s widely known that cycling is a low-impact form of exercise that’s good for the cardiovascular system, a way to control weight gain, and benefits our immune system. In addition, daily bicycling can have positive effects on our mental well-being.

In June 2013, the American Medical Association voted in favor of recognizing obesity as a disease; the Food and Drug Administration already does. This newly-labeled disease is predicted to affect more than 44 percent of all Americans by 2030 if no action is taken. Canada is not exempt from this health crisis: in 2010, Statistics Canada found that an average of 34 percent of individuals aged 60 to 69 were obese.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has identified the positive impact of making cities more bike-friendly: “integrating health-enhancing choices into transportation policy has the potential to save lives by preventing chronic diseases, reducing and preventing motor-vehicle-related injury and deaths, improving environmental health, while stimulating economic development, and ensuring access for all people.” 


The CDC also recognized that a lack of efficient transportation alternatives to driving and a fear of biking in heavy traffic only encouraged people to continue to drive all or most of the time.

In light of these findings, there remains resistance, mostly political, in accepting the benefits of daily bicycling as preventive health care. The Obama administration’s Affordable Care Act has set aside money for improving bicycling conditions through the Prevention and Public Health Fund. However, according to The Wall Street Journal, none of the 85 cities in the US that are actively installing better bicycle infrastructure (including protected bike lanes, trails, and bike share systems) have accessed these funds. Connecting bicycling to preventive health care in the US has yet to gain public acceptance and would draw resistance to these projects.

The silver lining is: there is growing acceptance of the Complete Streets movement. Complete Streets – or roadways that enable safe transportation for all road users – provide opportunities for increased, safe physical activity. Also, it’s been found that these streets are the most effective solution for encouraging daily physical activity. With 488 Complete Streets policies adopted in the US, the connection between health care and active transportation is gaining ground.

Providing bike riders with a safe and convenient way to commute every day should be seen as a form of preventive health care. With a safe network of bike routes, more North Americans can be encouraged to take to their bikes instead of their cars, which could very likely result in billions of health care dollars saved.

UNCOVERING BICYCLING’S HEALTH CARE SAVINGS


A study led by Dr. Thomas Götschi of the Institute of Social and Preventative Medicine at the University of Zurich examined the costs and benefits of bicycling in Portland, OR. Götschi’s findings are startling: “By 2040, investments [in everyday bicycling in the USA] in the range of $138 to $605 million will result in health care cost savings of $388 to $594 million (…) and savings in value of statistical lives of $7 to $12 billion.” Götschi’s study is the first cost-benefit analysis of investments in bicycling.

A study conducted by Jonathan Patz and Maggie Grabow of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and published in Environmental Health Perspectives looked to quantify the benefits of reduced car usage in 11 metropolitan areas in the upper Midwestern United States. The study found that replacing short car trips with biking could net health benefits of $4.94 billion per year in the study area. Mortality could also decline by roughly 1,000 per year due to increased fitness levels and improved air quality.

Home is Where You Park it

What began as an attempt at a simpler life quickly became a life-style brand.
By Rachel Monroe
NEW YORKER Magazine, April 24, 2017
#Vanlife, the Bohemian Social-Media Movement

. . . before we reached the forest, we stopped at another surf break, north of Ventura. A middle-aged man in a shiny Volvo station wagon pulled into the parking lot behind us. He’d seen us on the freeway and followed us, he said. He wanted to talk about vans, and self-sufficiency, and freedom. 

Just a few days into vanlife, I had become accustomed to this kind of encounter: the hunger in the eyes of middle-aged men at the sight of old Volkswagens, and how not entirely bad it felt to be a symbol that other people projected their fantasies onto. 

Smith smiled politely as the man kept talking. “You’re survivors,” the man said emphatically, thumping his steering wheel. “You’re living in reality.” Read entire article HERE >>

What is the Tiny House Movement


Tiny homes have recently taken the housing market by storm, appearing all over rural and urban America as an affordable and eco-conscious solution to an increasingly tight housing supply, plus the desire for a life of adventure, more time and freedom are all listed as inspirations for going small.

Simply put, it is a social movement where people are choosing to downsize the space they live in. The typical American home is around 2,600 square feet, whereas the typical small or tiny house is between 100 and 400 square feet. Tiny houses come in all shapes, sizes, and forms, but they enable simpler living in a smaller, more efficient space.

What’s cool about tiny homes is that the entire space is sort of a broadcast of some sort of value that you hold in relation to homes, sustainability, and how you’re living your life.

For most Americans 1/3 to 1/2 of their income is dedicated to the roof over their heads; this translates to 15 years of working over your lifetime just to pay for it, and because of it 76% of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck.


So what is the alternative? One solution might be to live smaller. While we don’t think tiny houses are for everyone, there are lessons to be learned and applied in order to escape the cycle of debt in which almost 70% of Americans are trapped.



This is a growing movement, that is for sure! With international attention on CNN, AP, Guardian, Huffington Post, NBC, Oprah, PBS and so many more, the tiny house movement has helped people learn about another way to live their lives.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Has our thinking, our freedom, our democracy been hacked?

Today, algorithms (a set of guidelines that describe how to perform a task, usually with the aid of a computer) know pretty well what we do, what we think and how we feel—possibly even better than our friends and family or even ourselves. Often the recommendations we are offered fit so well that the resulting decisions feel as if they were our own, even though they are actually not our decisions. In fact, we are being remotely controlled ever more successfully in this manner. The more is known about us, the less likely our choices are to be free and not predetermined by others.

Personalized advertising and pricing cannot be compared to classical advertising or discount coupons, as the latter are non-specific and also do not invade our privacy with the goal to take advantage of our psychological weaknesses and knock out our critical thinking.

Is Big Brother becoming a reality?

The idea of replacing the thinking of all citizens by a computer cluster would be absurd because that would dramatically lower the diversity and quality of the solutions achievable. It is already clear that the problems of the world have not decreased despite the recent flood of data and the use of personalized information—on the contrary! World peace is fragile. The long-term change in the climate could lead to the greatest loss of species since the extinction of dinosaurs. We are also far from having overcome the financial crisis and its impact on the economy. Cyber-crime is estimated to cause an annual loss of 3 trillion dollars. States and terrorists are preparing for cyber-warfare.

If our judgments and decisions are predetermined by algorithms, however, this truly leads to a brainwashing of the people. Intelligent beings are downgraded to mere receivers of commands, who automatically respond to stimuli.

For entire article see Scientific American


Definition of algorithm. :a procedure for solving a mathematical problem (as of finding the greatest common divisor) in a finite number of steps that frequently involves repetition of an operation; broadly :a step-by-step procedure for solving a problem or accomplishing some end especially by a computer.