Why Do We Eat?

 Yesterday I had nothing to eat for dinner. I left home after lunch to go to work and only when I was far enough to not be able to return, I realized that I forgot to bring my food. As I wouldn’t be home before 22:30 I decided to skip dinner. When I woke up today I decided to not eat until midday to complete a 24 hour fast. Well, it turned out to be 22 hours, because I had to little concentration working. However, there did arise a fundamental question in me. Why do we eat?

Food Culture

In the Netherlands it’s common to eat bread for breakfast, a warm meal for lunch or dinner, and the other meal bread again. In Spain it’s common to eat a light breakfast accompanied by coffee, or sometimes a small glass of beer, lunch will be extensive, and only around 22:00 a light dinner is served. In Italy breakfast is usually a cup of coffee and a sweet pastry and in Brazil breakfast isn’t much either. Everything revolves around the lunch. In Indonesia it’s not uncommon to eat fried rice for breakfast, and for lunch, and for dinner – honestly though, I don’t remember exactly, that was what I preferred at least.

nasi

My point being, that in none of all these countries I visited anybody was eating their food because otherwise the decision to not eat, would be the last one they ever made. It seems to me that eating is more a behavioral pattern than an outright necessity in most of the cases.

Not only habitual factors play a role, but also social factors. When you would otherwise not have eaten, you are going to eat something because your friend asked you to.

From this perspective it makes a lot of sense what I mentioned in my previous blog about your ultimate personal diet guide, that the best way of eating is the one that you can adhere to. As you know now, diet is a behavioral pattern, where eating only is the final step.

So now that we have established that perhaps we mostly eat because it’s time to eat, what do we actually need?

Not Eating

In an article on the Scientific American about not eating there is substantial evidence for people to be able to survive 40 days of starvation, however this all depends with how much muscles or excess body fat you start losing weight. Mahatma Gandhi went on a hunger strike of 21 days when he was already a skinny man, and above 70 years of age. By the same token, there is a remarkable story of a Scotsman named Angus Barbieri that fasted for 382 days. He started when he was carrying around 209kg (!) of bodyweight though, he finally stopped his fast when he weighed 86kg.

Then in Autobiography of a Yogi, a book written by Paramahansa Yogananda in 1946, aimed to enlighten the west with the science of Yoga. In there he provides anecdotal evidence of a yogi that doesn’t eat at all through applying a certain yoga technique, she proved her ability various times by staying in closed quarters and observation for up to 30 days. Nowadays, equally there are people that claim to be living on little to no food as well.

When food is broken down it gets converted into ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate), this is essential for cells and our body to function. However, theoretically there seems to be a way to generate ATP without food.

This might make all your bs-sensors to go on red-alert. As this is entirely understandable, to me it shows that as soon as you stop looking at food as something that is preventing you from dying, there is an opportunity to look for different ways to live.

My Fast

As I went into my spontaneous fast of only 22 hours, I quickly realized that my mind started playing tricks on me. What? You are not going to give yourself food? What if you are hungry when you sleep? What if you can’t do it? My mind did what it is good at, trying to stay comfortable.

I ate at midday, and went to bed without feeling hungry. When I was in bed I felt a little hungry, but totally manageable. After falling asleep, I only managed to get around 6 hours of sleep in. When I woke up however, I was more awake than usual. I felt light, and during my morning routine I noticed how little stiffness I experienced as opposed to other days. Later on, I started working on my computer and felt my concentration being slightly reduced. Overtime this increased, together with slight dizziness. After eating I went for a 4km walk which felt very light to begin with, but was quite hard at the end.

unhappy-plate

These are all normal symptoms, and you should take them into consideration before you start a fast. For more information on fasting do your research well, here is an article about the fasting mimicking diet, which might be more accessible for most people. This diet makes your body believe you are fasting, while you are still eating something.

The Science Behind not Eating

Fasting has been shown to reverse age related declines in stem-cell function, by stimulating it’s regenerative capacity. Then, a fasting-like diet, that means eating so little your body perceives it as fasting, combined with chemo-therapy was 50% more effective than chemo-therapy alone. By the same token, fasting 72 hours before chemotherapy reduced the toxicity of the treatment. In a small observational study they found that three man were able to reverse type 2 diabetes by fasting 24 hours every other day.

I believe it’s important to realize through which lens you are viewing the act of eating. Are you comparing it to deeply wired cultural beliefs, all the bogus being thrown at you by the media and social media, or by what your friends think? Probably all play their role in how you eat. Nevertheless, eating is essential to survive, but how much, to what ends, when, how often, and what can totally differ.

It’s important to realize through which lens you are viewing the act of eating.

The Body as a System of Balance

I see the body as a system of balance where there is a lot more going on than food or calories in, and exercise or calories out. Sleep, water intake, stress, beliefs, the people with whom you eat, and the way you cook all play their role. At the same time, when you eat your body needs to digest and has no (less) time to take care of regenerative processes, like regenerating damage related to aging or cleaning up cancerous cells.

The bottom line is, that we usually eat because it’s time to eat. If we eat because of what we need, a totally different equation evolves.

Underneath a video by Wim “The Iceman” Hof, explaining why he eats only one time a day. If he eats at the same time every day, he fasts for 24 hours, always.

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Why in Healthcare and Politics Treating The Root Cause is Not The Solution (Yet)

Yesterday I went to the cinema to watch The Invisibles. A movie about Jewish people in Berlin during the second world-war. As Hitlers’ regime declared the city “jew-free”, there were still 7000 of them underground. They basically became invisible with the help of brave fellow Germans. Unfortunately, only 1700 would see the war end. I realized the importance of the movie, as the second world war has been visualized in films time after time – but now in times where right wing politics is gaining popularity more and more it seems that the relevance of this topic is higher than ever.

One of the arguments people often bring up is that we shouldn’t forget what happened then, so we won’t repeat it now. Since most of the world-war two survivors are slowly passing away because of old age, there won’t be a lot of time left before we can only rely on history books, movies, and second hand stories for us to know what happened at the time.

The Movie Bias

What made me think though, is that all the movies about the second world war, the Vietnam war, and more recent movies about the war in Iraq, all depict the horrors and the consequences. Even though it’s important to be aware of what they were, there happened a lot before (regular) people became mass murderers.

helicopter

In comparison, 10 months ago I twisted my knee while climbing. After more or less successfully rehabilitating my knee, there was a moment during yoga class where my knee made a loud SNAP! It swelled right away and hurt like hell. A couple of days later I made an MRI, it turns out my medial meniscus was torn.

If I would make a movie about this it would be about me tearing my meniscus, all the pain I felt and how I did my rehabilitation and how I eventually resolved it, with or without surgery. Nevertheless, what happened before I injured myself? What were my thoughts, convictions, and decisions that led me to that situation in the first place?

In the case of Hitler – him writing a book explaining his philosophy is a boring movie and also speaks less to the imagination than millions of minorities killed in gas chambers. Complex belief mechanisms mixed with capitalist-communist politics and protection of interest is a lot less spectacular and hard to understand than soldiers with post traumatic stress disorder, missing limbs, helicopters shooting in the Vietnamese jungle and the napalm coming after.

Not only in movies we are biased to viewing consequences and symptoms, but also in healthcare and in politics we tend to go for short term gain instead of treating the root cause.

I believe there is a combination of two phenomena that is responsible for the fact that we end up circling through similar situations over and over.

Pain and Money

The first one is pain. In the case of our body this literal pain can be a sign of damage, but it is mostly a signal for you to pay attention. When it comes to politics there might be situations that provoke discomfort: violence, refugee crisis, lack of job opportunities and economic setbacks.

The second one, is the fact that one way provides more money and power than the other. I believe in general money leads to power and vice versa. When we look at healthcare that means that highly invasive treatments like surgery, chemotherapy, and medication are usually preferred over investing money in providing knowledge, tools, and empowerment to people so that they don’t get to a place where such treatment might be indicated in the first place.

surgery-tools

Pain and Money in Politics and Healthcare

In politics the reduction of available resources (money) or lack of control (power) provoke short term solutions as well. An example is the wall that was build between Turkey and Syria, with funding from the European Union, to block the crossing of immigrants. “We cannot control the refugees, so we literally block them from coming in at all”. This will reduce the amount of immigrants entering the European Union, that’s true, but on the other hand it increases the chances that the same people will be more susceptible to be recruited for radical purposes. Interestingly, according to the Swiss Historian Daniele Ganser, the US and the UK, together with a couple of other countries want to overthrow the Assad-regime to keep the oil flowing west.Therefore, the whole fact that these refugees want to flee Syria in the first place, is our own fault. So much for treating the root-cause.

j-s-romeo-629384-unsplash

Back to money in healthcare. I believe that as soon as there is more money to be earned with preventive than curative medicine, the medical system will change radically. However, I think it is important to remember that the most natural solutions to our health, are far from lucrative. If you grow your own crop, buy products from your local village, and exchange other products with fellow inhabitants all the while moving on a continuous basis, there will be little to earn for big corporations.

As you can see money plays a big role both in health care as in political decisions. What I think is interesting though, is how is feasted on our lack of knowledge and capacity to deal with pain and discomfort. The amounts of times I have treated clients that preferred a shot of cortisone from the doctor than sustainable holistic treatment just because they wanted the pain to be gone. Equally, I have been proposed nothing but surgery by knee specialists for my meniscus even though it bothers me little in everyday life. I am in luck that I have an education that allows me to make more informed decisions in this case.

When we go return to politics, discomfort is capitalized on immensely as well. U.S. president Trump capitalized on the dissatisfaction of the public by shouting so loud, but most of all differently from what everybody else was doing, that people flocked his way. He managed to be very obviously different than the rest of the candidates. In a similar way president elect Jair Bolsonario in Brazil is about to succeed with an exact copy of Trumps strategy. He is in the final and deciding round of the election process with 18% more votes than his opponent Fernando Haddad.

As you might realize now the equation money/power x pain/discomfort is feasted upon continuously. Lack of knowledge and perspective leads people to be influenced easily. This holds true for politics as much as going to see a knee specialist. I personally always appreciated the informed client a lot. As things go they are the ones that have to live with their body, not me. When you are more informed I can help you better. However, it might not earn me the most money. Politicians would agree if they were looking to solve root-causes. So generally, it is best you are uninformed.

Alternatives and a Questioning Attitude

I think therefore, that it’s essential to increase your knowledge and be aware that there are always alternatives. Humans have a hard time comparing two (on the surface) unrelated things. Shall I buy the better TV for $700,- or the cheaper one for $500,- that’s less good? As you stand there scratching your head, mouth dry, and about to go for the more expensive one, you could also walk home, and buy two plane tickets for a weekend get-away.

In recent times there are still big powers at play, twisting information and trying to make money of the ignorance of people. Lucky for us however, we don’t have to rely on a couple of brave people sending underground news through the post like in the second world war. Today, within a minute you can share whatever with the world. This creates a lot of noise, but if you take control and look, in stead of consume, there is a lot of value available.

I believe that if you take control of your life, a questioning attitude is key. When it comes to health and healthcare as the decisions you are required to make in politics. On the surface things might look unrelated, but wars in the middle-east about oil, and walls to prevent refugees from crossing, and your personal health have a lot more in common than you think. For once, they might or might not be subject to your own ignorance. So I wonder therefore, what’s your next question going to be?

why

Why You Should Sleep Well Every Night

AMAZING BREAKTHROUGH!

Scientists have discovered a revolutionary new treatment that makes you live longer. It enhances your memory and makes you more creative. It makes you look more attractive. It keeps you slim and lowers food cravings. It protects you from cancer and dementia. It wards off colds and the flu. It lowers your risk of heart attacks and stroke, not to mention diabetes. You’ll even feel happier, less depressed, and less anxious. Are you interested?

Matthew Walker. Why We Sleep: The New Science of Sleep and Dreams

We tend to know more about things that aren’t part of our body than the things that are. Hammers, cars, politics and economics are usually better understood than what is going on inside of us. Interestingly, there is little education and mainstream information available on the thing that every single human (hopefully) spends one third of their life on. I am wondering therefore, how much do you know about sleep?

Before I started reading Matthew Walkers´ best-seller Why We Sleep, I knew that it was important to sleep between 7.5 to 8.5 hours a night. I knew that screens from laptops, telephones, and tablets radiated blue light that mingles with your circadian rhythm (wakefulness rhythm). This is a natural part of our life that is influenced by sunlight but doesn’t depend on it. Also, I had recently come to believe that “night-owls” (late sleepers) didn’t exist. They were just people that ignored their sleep impulse earlier in the evening.

Before I bought the book I was trying to optimize my sleep for a while already. I keep my phone away at night, and I engage in little demanding activities. Preferably I eat early so that I don’t go to bed on the verge of explosion and I aim to go to bed at the same time to stay in my rhythm. Let’s see what remained of that after reading Why We Sleep?

Waking Up in the Morning

To figure that out, let’s go through a day of sleep. Are you with me? 06:00 BEEP – BEEP – BEEP. Wake up, you get out of bed after falling asleep at 23:00. Did you sleep enough? Regardless of how you feel, you didn’t. Every human being needs around 8 hours of sleep each night. After a couple of days sleeping 7 hours, only one hour less, you perform like you didn’t sleep an entire night. How crazy is that.

When you come into the kitchen you pore yourself a cup of coffee – why? Because you like it, or because you can’t wake up otherwise? If it’s the latter, you are sleeping too little. Coffee increases your wakefulness, but it doesn’t decrease your sleepiness. It also stays in your system for a long time and modifies your sleep quality, unless you are a genetic outlaw. Which you are probably not.

Time to get into the car to work. Hopefully you are awake now, because there are more car accidents happening in the U.S. as a consequence of drowsy driving, than of driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs together.

Sleep is Your Solution

When you fall into your desk chair, and you login to you computer your brain starts to make weird noises. Still this issue you can’t find a solution to. Why haven’t you found a solution? First question that should follow after: did I sleep enough?

dreamcatchers

During our REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep, or our dream sleep, our brain becomes highly active. It starts reorganizing, activating, and connecting neurons. New knowledge gets transferred from your short-term memory to your long-term memory and your brain integrates this new knowledge with what already was. If you sleep well, this sleep feature greatly increases your creativity and the probability that you solve that issue at work.

For lunch you eat a big sandwich and talk to some colleagues. After you feel sleepy. You always eat to much for lunch. That could be, however you are also experiencing a natural dip in wakefulness under influence of your circadian rhythm. The best thing to do right now is to lie down and do a nap. Humans are biphasic sleepers (two times per day) even though this is not recognized in today’s (western) society. From now on you never have to feel guilty again for napping during the (preferably early) afternoon.

Let’s say you did nap, and you return to your computer. All of a sudden you find the solution to that everlasting problem. I told you sleep would help you..

Getting Ready to Sleep

When you arrive home in the evening you crash into the couch and get out your phone. Finally time to binge on social media and check what your friends are up to. Don’t do that too long because the bluelight coming out there reduces your sleep quality. At the very least install Twilight on your Android and F.lux on your computer to filter this light out, if you must use them at all. Better read a book, or talk to the person(s) you live with.

If you did that well you will get sleepy. During the day the hormone adenosine has been accumulating in your brain, creating an ever bigger sleep pressure. At the same time your wakefulness has been reducing. Depending on what type of person you are, the rhythm in which this happens is different. If you are an early sleeper this would be around 21:30, when you are a late-sleeper around midnight, and if you are in between around 22:30.

Sleep-model

School Times

Interestingly, children around 15-16 years old usually get sleepy later than their parents. A significant amount of time that should be honored according to Matthew Walker, also a UC-Berkely Professor. Early school times have disastrous effects on the development of the brains of our children. Later starting times have been shown to result in an increase of SAT score of 200 on average. Finally I understand, why I would fall asleep every single time I sat down in the bus to high school.

You made it to bed. As soon as you really fall asleep your sleep pressure is going down and your brain starts doing some valuable maintenance. It cuts away what is not being used, it clears out plaque that might turn in to dementia later on and it processes emotional experiences.

The Power of Sleep

Emerging from this research renaissance is an unequivocal message: sleep is the single most effective thing we can do to reset our brain and body health each day—Mother Nature’s best effort yet at contra-death.

Matthew Walker. Why We Sleep: The New Science of Sleep and Dreams

Why We Sleep has immensely increased my believe in the value of sleep, and how it all by itself can counter a lot of the issues thatmost of us encounter in our everyday life. Be it from feeling depressed, to diabetes to our performance on the soccer field. Sleep is the basis for everything to thrive upon. The single most important thing you can do according to the book is go to sleep at the same time and get up at the same time. Also during the weekends.

Oh and yes, read the book yourself. If you are going to read one book on health this year, or in your entire lifetime, read this one. Otherwise as well.

Why It Is Good To Feel Bad

When I notice how the general perception of negative emotions is, and how is being dealt with them, I cannot help but wonder. It seems, generally speaking that we do not want to feel bad, and therefore get away from any negativity as soon as possible. However, I believe that even though we like to feel good, it is good to feel bad.

I was inspired by reading Jordan Peterson’s second book Twelve Rules for Life – An Antidote to Chaos. In there, he argues to deal with whatever troubles you rather than running away from it. He puts this into perspective with archetypal stories that tale about heroes, fighting the devil, going through hell, and conquering the underworld. These themes occur in a variety of stories ranging from the Bible to Pinocchio. If you realize the metaphorical power of these stories you can learn from them and apply them. If you want to be your own hero and feel strong, content, and respected, you have to go through the underworld, conquer whatever is there, to live as a victor ever after. Or in short, deal with your issues and feel bad. Otherwise there is no way to feel good.

However extensive the ways to (not) deal with whatever troubles you, I believe there is an important thing to note beforehand. We all like to feel good. The crux is though that we perceive feeling good, as something good, and feeling bad, as something bad. The difference in value ascribed to certain emotions results in that we do not value a situation for what it is when we do not feel well.

Pain is bad, being angry is bad, crying is perceived as weakness, sadness is unlikable, complaining makes you a drag, and being hurt is an insult to humanity. This forces every single one of us into a straight jacket. Luckily though, there is comfort food, the doctor that tells you you don’t need to feel pain (and prescribes the drugs to resolve it), movies to make you laugh, computer games to forget your real existence, and your best friend telling you to take it easy.

There is always someone or something to help you steer clear of whatever produces

yogatreepose
When it comes to emotions, balance is key

negative emotions. However, the labeling of emotions is unjust. Without feeling bad, there is no way to know what feeling good is. Therefore, it does not serve anyone to run away from that what makes you experience negative emotions. It complicates relationships, it clouds your judgement, and it diminishes learning opportunities.

Therefore, I think pain is good because your body is transmitting important information. Fighting with that person you profoundly dislike is good as well, because not every learning experience is accompanied by a serotonin rush. Then, feeling sad about the passing of a family member is good, because it forces you to process and reorganize your perception of reality without that person. And finally, being bullied is good, because there is plenty more in the world that doesn’t look like a bully, but can provoke similar feelings.

Emotions are productions of our subconscious and on first sight seem like the most truthful experiences at whatever moment they occur. Nevertheless, they often are the result of a formula involving a lot of factors, and their role depends on the context they occur in. Where it might first seem that you are responding to something that happens to you now, it might just be that it is the result of what happened two years ago. Emotions are important and useful, but do not necessarily need to dictate what you do next.

On top of this all, to stop valuing negative emotions as something bad will diminish their negative influence. If you have the courage to concentrate on your pain with a calm mind, instead of trying to distract yourself, you will notice its intensity going down. I tried this myself, to focus on my knee pain, instead of trying to forget it. It works phenomenally because I did what my body required me to do. To pay attention. At the same time it provoked a terminator-like-confidence inside of me, realizing that there is no need for emotional avoidance and how well I can function with pain. This holds true for other emotions as well, ignoring them will only make their voice stronger.

When I hold ground and question what arises inside of me, I could actually figure this out. If I try to put every negative emotion away though, stuff get’s messy. There is this voice in the back of my head calling for attention, at the same time I am trying to pretend everything is fine. If I would just take it on, or as Jordan Peterson says in his book: “stand up straight with your shoulders back”, it won’t be nice to begin with, but it will balance out after.

Stand up straight with your shoulders back.

Jordan Peterson

Whatever I run away from, be it the police, learning for an exam, or negative emotions, its calling will only get stronger, because it needs attention. Now.

Further Reading:
  • 12 Rules for Life – An Antidote to Chaos by Jordan Peterson
  • Acceptance and Commitment Therapy by S. Hayes, K. Strosahl, K. Wilson.

Why Your Nose Is Your Toe

The quality of healthcare nowadays, has progressed to a level that specialists are able to fix every fracture, they can reconnect nerves, and they are able to connect a new heart, liver, or kidney in to your body. Concentrating for years on a single body part has allowed for impressive feats in their specific area. The problem is however, that the body itself does not reason with body parts or medical specialization.

Was it not for thousands of years of research, cutting into corpses (both dead and alive), and drawing the results on to paper, or we would not have known what we know now. As things go, our body did not come into being with names on all of it’s parts as we have defined them today.

Researchers have found papyrus from ancient Egypt, dating back to 1600BC. They showed that the Egyptians had identified certain organs and hormonal glands. Later on the Greek did their part naming for example the Achilles Tendon after a greek hero who was the fastest runner. As a baby his mother made him invulnerable by dipping him by his achilles into the Styx river. Later in war, he was killed by a poisonous arrow. It struck him in the only vulnerable place in his body, his achilles.

bodyworldsdissection

Over the course of history a variety of people from ancient Greece, to Leonardi da Vinci, to a belgian man named Andreas Vesalius have made significant contributions to human anatomy.

The history of anatomy and the naming of our body is very intriguing, however it still is a model based on observation. Over time every muscle, bone, ligament, nerve, organ, and layer of skin has been described with a function and name. Just like we have divided the world by countries, and we have given random groups of stars names. These models are great facilitators when it comes to communicating about these subjects with regard to where and when.

Nevertheless, the world itself does not think of itself as a collection of countries. There is not a part of nature that decides to create an earthquake in Haiti, rather the earthquake happens in a place we call Haiti. The same goes for the body. The body itself does not purposefully create pain in

bodyparts
The body itself does not think of itself as a collection of parts

it’s knee, rather it expresses symptoms in a location that we call the knee.

In the case of countries we have given governments authority to make decisions in “their” parts of the earth, where in the case of the body there is a specialist who helps you govern a specific a body area. These divisions are such an inherent part of our society, that we have based our entire thought structure around it.

Divisions and models are great tools to understand. At the same time though, it is easy to mistake them for reality. As a consequence, for example, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is often received with skepticism in the west. TCM is a holistic approach that sees health and disease on a continuum. Our organism is seen as a system of balance. It has a vital energy called “qi”, that needs to circulate freely along lines called “meridians”.

The idea the Chinese have developed of the body over the previous 5000 years might seem weird, when compared to what was developed in Europe. Nevertheless, upon itself it makes total sense. Still, just like in western medicine it is a way of modeling the body. Neither body parts nor meridians were formed by the body itself.

Regardless if we model the body or not, I believe it does respond in predictable ways. A punch in your stomach will provoke pain, and a fall on your elbow will result in a bruise. At the same time sitting for long times, while feeling stressed, and drinking little water might provoke back pain and digestion issues.

When I think of the body as a collection of parts these logical responses can be confusing. However, when I perceive the body as a unity responding in a predictable way, a lot of everyday worries can be put to rest.

When I perceive the body as a unity responding in a predictable way, a lot of everyday worries can be put to rest.

We tend to experience the biggest discomfort when we do not understand what we are feeling. However, when you understand that your nose and toe are just as much your body, as your stomach and liver. As well as that the body responds in a logical manner, you can stop pretending that stressing and bad food is not affecting you. Where on the contrary, your newly initiated habit of working out two times a week, will positively affect a lot more than the size of your muscles.

Neymar, What Do You Represent?

Dear Neymar,

How are you? I saw you play against Switzerland the other day. I noticed your new hair cut. I really liked the Elvis style. I heard you brought your hairdresser to Russia though. He must be having a great time! Too bad, he cut your hair short after that game. Did you think that’s why you didn’t score any goals? Haha, just kidding. Anyway, I sincerely hope you will get this letter, because I have been meaning to talk to you for a while already.

You know, my mind spins, every time I see you play. It seems that you have figured out how to fly, but only when you are touched in the right place. Then, every time you walk in or out of the dressing room, I get to see commercials here on the Brazilian TV. With you again! Who would have thought that would be possible? Well, we all know it’s possible. In your case nevertheless, things might have turned out quite different. I read you grew up near São Paolo, being very poor and all. Most people don’t make it out of there like you, rather they work in the local convenience store or at the McDonald’s.

However, you did end up working for the red M huh? Beautiful commercial with your son. And his hair, so blond! Wouldn’t you like some of that? Haha, just kidding. I was wondering though, if you considered what you are actually representing? The thing is, at McDonald’s they sell burgers, fries, and other processed food. It has been proven over and over, that those are major causes of the biggest killers in the world. No, that’s not Osama Bin-Laden. They are: heart’s disease, cancer, diabetes and obesity. Is that really what you want to represent?

Then, the other day, I saw that you build an institute in your hometown. Amazing, that you are investing in the lives of the people you grew up with. Providing them with better opportunities, education and sports facilities. You seem to have your heart in the right place.

At this moment I wonder therefore, if you know which people suffer the most from eating the garbage you represent? To make it easy for you, the people with little income. Like the ones in your hometown. So, on the one hand you do this beautiful thing for your community. Where on the other hand, you stimulate the same people to eat glorified plastic by appearing in every commercial with a big red M above your head. Have you ever looked at it from this perspective?

I believe this awareness to go a long way, also because your life isn’t the only one filled with contradictions. I even write about it regularly, here on my blog. If you want your weekly fix of awareness provoking and healthy lifestyle inducing information, just enter your e-mail address on the right here. You will receive my newest blog right in your inbox! Maybe it will help you with future decisions.

That’s all for now. The only thing I still want to mention is; please, score some goals against Serbia, and get Brazil to the finals. As things go, there is nothing worse than being around Brazilians when they have just seen their favorite person in the world fall a thousand times, without making any goals.

Good luck!

Joël

ps. something I have always wanted to know; when you play FIFA, do you always play yourself, or rather Messi or C. Ronaldo

Connect To Change

In recent times I have acquired a different view on what change means and how it works. Generally change is understood as I am changing. The fact that we use it as a verb however, does not mean I am the subject of the process. We have created a world where I am the center of my story, and every other person of theirs. Be it in evolution or in nature. We tend to forget nevertheless, that there is a lot more than me, you and us in this world. Not everything is palpable, but it is does affect everyone, including the world around us.

The idea that change is something that should be initiated by me, is exactly what has come to struck me as odd. Once I relieve myself of the idea, change is not as surprising, confusing, and confronting anymore. The world within and around me is always moving, even without my conscious interference. Nevertheless, when my attention is needed I can trust my body, mind and environment to communicate with me. I will feel uncomfortable the moment I start walking wrong.

Change Signals

The signals I receive however, are not always directly pointing at it’s origin. Feelings of insecurity and general discomfort might arise as a consequence of a toxic relationship. Then, when we take a look at our environment; we tend to develop strong connections with the places we live in, and work at. A new environment we tend to compare to what we already know, instead of viewing it as it is. A stimulus that might indicate our environment demands change, does not necessarily need to come from my (social) environment. This might just as well be back pain, confusion or a lack of sleep.

The confusion that arises as a consequence of these change signals, I believe to be the result of the values and thoughts we hold towards them. Originating more from our formal education, upbringing and social environment’s values, than they are our own. Therefore, to synchronize with this process can be confronting before it is liberating. To realize that the direction I am moving, is different than what I have always perceived as important, can be unbalancing.

Letting Change Happen

The gain is though, that once I engage with the process instead of resisting it, life gets interesting around every turn. This perception of change is something that results in no day being the same. To run with it is not only highly satisfying, I believe it is also a trainable capacity. Noticing every signal for what it is when it comes to my awareness, will allow me to engage quicker in this unfolding, and with less insecurities. Ultimately, I know that change is not solely a capacity, but rather a synonym to life.

 

Nobody Deserves Anything

The concept of doing something before, and getting something in return after, is one of the fundamental pillars our society was build upon. I work, I learn, and I listen, where after I will get something in return. As things go, we believe that when things are not constructed this way, people would just do whatever they want. Therefore, the concept of deserving something is deeply wired within our behavior. It often dictates expectations, emotions and decisions.

What Is Deserving?

Therefore, it looks like that something needs to happen before I can get ahead in life. Regardless if it is the work I do, if I treat someone kindly or if I was unfortunately born in to a poor family. Supposedly only then, I have the right on something in return.  The case is however, I do not have the right to anything, nor do I deserve anything. The fiction that is the idea of deserving, is a mere creation of us humans. There is no lion in the world that thinks, after following a gazelle for ten kilometers, I deserve to eat it now. Expecting hereafter, that nature will provide the animal ready to be eaten.

To believe this fiction for reality, is like playing roulette with my freedom of choice and emotions. Firstly, I only have the right on a reward, after I do something. Therefore, I start basing what I do on what I will get in return. Secondly, because I have unconsciously connected emotions with this process. Since it is up to someone else to give me what I deserve, I ultimately give away control over my emotions. Not until I realize however, that this concept is a mental creation, nothing more than a Fata Morgana, I can deal with it’s consequences appropriately. Do I agree with that I need to work for what I deserve? Do I want to let my feelings depend on the kind of reward I am getting for what I did?

The Deserve Delusion

I believe the delusion provoked by an idea so common within our society is stunning. It is a significant part of many bad feelings, friction within relationships, and often at the core of dysfunctional behavior. Nature, and our body as a part of it, do not function according to the idea of deserving something. The trees do not drop their leaves because they think they deserve new ones, our stomach does not think after two plates of salad it deserves a hamburger, nor does my body stop healing a cut in my arm just because it thinks it should have a break after three days.

Every single person is subject to the laws of nature, it is up to us though, how we handle them. Do I want to confuse me and my emotions by subscribing to an idea that is nothing more than the creation of a human brain, or do I realize that I can take and get whatever I want from what the universe has to offer. I do not need to wait for anybody to give me a reward, least of all myself. Engaging in what I like, what I perceive as important and what ultimately makes me happy is not something I deserve. It is mine already.

Why You Should Have the Guts To Follow Heart Before Brain

Recently, I have been reading a book called Mbraining; Doing Cool Stuff With Your Multiple Brains. It explains how we have actually three brains not one, and how every brain has it’s own expressions and qualities. To optimally function as a human being the integration of all three brains is key. Lack of coherence between them can lead to a variety of problems. The idea that we have three brains is not just an invention, but by definition the gut and the heart have identical qualities as the head brain or cerebrum. Besides that, this knowledge can be found throughout many esoteric traditions all over the world. By reading the book and using it’s awareness exercises I recognized how mechanisms between the three brains work for me.

Brain Centered Society

When I analyze the way we designed our society though, a lack of coherence between the three brains becomes evident. Looking at what we learn in school, how we should make responsible decisions and what knowledge we ascribe the highest value too, it turns out all these qualities are related to the head brain. First, in school we learn math, physics and geography. Then, when we take an important decision we tend to look at the pro’s and con’s, how much money we have to invest now and how much we might get in return. Finally, after receiving a masters degree I will get a high salary, because value is expressed with money.

The heart brain accounts for compassion and courage is to be found an expression of the gut brain. However, did I ever meet somebody who got rich solely by being super courageous, or somebody who was the most loving person in the world? There might be exceptions, but this is not the rule. On the other hand, an a-social person having troubles with expressing his feelings, living in fear, but a genius head-brainer, might end up earning a lot of money without doubt.

Furthermore, as long as we only value one out of many of our human capacities things are bound to feel wrong eventually. If they actually go wrong is a matter of perspective. Nevertheless, the fact that there are so many people feeling unsatisfied, even though they have jobs that provide them all the physical safety and material comfort, says a lot. Knowing that our head-brain-based-society is self-limiting, does not mean we should start making decisions solely based on compassion or fearlessness.

Brain Integration

Even though, we value our head brain the most, both in society and the fact that reasonable decisions are supposed to be good ones, the heart should be listened to with the highest regard. This does not mean however, that I turn off my head brain, rather I chose to ascribe value to the entire experience. Including heart felt sensations and gut feelings in to my decisions with a proper mindset allow me to act with more confidence. Ultimately, opening up the way for me to feel happier and more satisfied.

It is still possible that decisions have an outcome that is unsatisfying to me. Nevertheless, the fact that I took my decisions in a state of coherence with everything I feel and think, it is easier to deal with these consequences. As things go, loss, gain and concepts like having fortune or bad luck are inventions of us humans. My heart and gut do not function based on this concepts. When it comes to the head brain though, I am perfectly capable of materializing these concepts, ultimately influencing my feelings in a singular way.

Feelings

The heart and gut however, do not function according to belief, social construct and material importance. They express themselves and communicate with feelings. Therefore, when the head-brain-perspective deems a decision as wrong, there are still two parts of the equation that perceive differently. The result is, that a decision materialistically gone wrong can still be looked back upon with satisfaction when it was made with coherence of all three brains.

The shift of perspective this book provoked in me is still very significant. I have not finished it yet, but it already made it easier for me to make sense of certain experiences. On top of that, now I am aware of these interconnections, I can use breathing exercises, imagination, sound, smell and other modalities to enhance the communication and coherence between the three brains (more about this in the book). However, without doubt the biggest value it had for me personally is to put a structure to a decision making process that I was already engaging in. Now that this process is clearer, it is easier to reproduce. Ultimately, it showed me that all the moments I had the guts to follow heart before brain, the results led to great satisfaction. One of them being, that I call Brazil home now.

Why I Am Antisocial

Over the previous year I have met quite the amount of people. Ranging from young to old, poor to rich and everything along the line from very extrovert to very introverted. Regardless of personality type, I have had great conversations with all of them. Previously, having felt uncomfortable with “small talk”, I have become quite good at it now. The continuous exposure to conversation through being part of open cultures has helped me a lot. As a result, I come to the conclusion that small talk does not necessarily mean there is no purpose or content to what I am talking about. I know now, that the distinction between small talk, and otherwise meaningful conversation does not make sense to me anymore.

More Than Small Talk

From my point of view, to make this distinction, also means diminishing the fun and value of having a conversation. Just standing next to someone, there are so many more things happening than just the exchange of words. The biggest amount of our communication is non-verbal anyway. This is something I have become very aware of after meeting all these people. There are little words needed to figure out how comfortable I am going to be with somebody new.

I perceive that the expectations I have entering a conversation play a big role in this process. However, I have interacted so often now, that it has become easier to be at ease during a first encounter. Nevertheless, there are still situations I wish I would be able to be more open. On the other hand though, I have been in situations where I was purposefully antisocial. As things go, the truth is, that there are people I prefer not to talk to.

Becoming Antisocial

In the beginning, I was genuinely wondering if I was being impolite or closing down. Now I recognize though, that I have met so many people that I can say quite quickly if I want to invest energy in a connection. Being honest about what I like and do not like, together with my current outlook at life give me a compass in these situations. At the same time, ever since I stopped worrying about this, it has become easier to start a conversation with somebody new. Regardless if I am more, or less interested in that person. When I know beforehand that I am interested in nothing more than talking for a bit now, I will be more likely to engage in this conversation than when I am denying myself this truth. As things go, nothing is more uncomfortable and energy consuming than talking to somebody I do not want to talk to, at the same time worrying how to not talk to this person again.

On a deeper level I know, this all comes down to what is called self love. I cannot invest all my energy without having the time to recharge. Meeting people is awesome, but there are moments I do not have the energy for it. Just like with helping somebody else, either through my work or in my private life. If I do not take care of myself first, the situation I am creating will be unsustainable. Eventually, making me the person that would need help, even though I am trying to help somebody else.

The following I always conceive as a great metaphor to explain what I am getting at. Everybody that has been on an airplane, is familiar with the safety instructions before take-off. When the instruction gets to the point of the oxygen masks, they always tell you to put yours on first, before you help others. This practical form of “self love” is the same as being purposefully antisocial. When I do not take a breather every now and then, by not connecting with somebody or just straight up walking away from conversation, I will be unable to keep connecting with people long-term.

Talking Less Results In The Opposite

The interesting thing is, that since I started becoming more conscious about when, how, and under what terms I want to connect to somebody, I have actually found it easier to start talking to another person. I am not wasting energy on internal conflict, which would otherwise be something that inhibits my capacity to connect. To stay true to my own motivation and willingness to exchange, seems to be the ultimate tool to keep building authentic relationships.