I discovered John Vervake on the Jordan B. Peterson Podcast. He appeared very passionate about his knowledge and demonstrated this in his expression. I didn’t immediately dive in to learn more, but I did get a recommendation for the YouTube algorithm (I know, I know…they scanned my brain) on a video series entitledAwakening From The Meaning Crisis.
In The Meaning Crisis, Vervake traces the roots back to key idea leaders, societal developments and trends, philosophical ideas, religious institutions, psychological themes, and more, attempting to uncover how we arrived in the current state of the meaning crisis. In fifty-plus videos, Vervake explores a lot of territories. He poses ideas such as we should not limit what we believe to what we know.
Oh, if I hear that joke in the mocking of my personal quirks one more time.
The comparison to “Dug”, the talking dog from the animated movie Up, has plagued me for most of my adult life. I (apparently) was (am) distracted by every little thing that had (has) nothing to do with the current situation I was (am) in. I was the poster child for ADHD, the butt of every hyperactivity joke, and even I joked that I had it. But in hindsight, I didn’t really know what it was.
The new show, Nine Perfect Strangers, is now streaming its fourth episode on Hulu. The show is based on the 2018 book of the same name, by Lian Moriarty.
The show centers around a group of people attending a high-end wellness resort named Tranquilium, for a ten-day retreat. The resort is headed by a Russian woman named Masha (Nicole Kidman). In a former life, she was a driven, ruthless, CEO until she was shot and robbed in a parking garage. The paramedic that saved her, Yao, is her partner at Tranquilium.
There was a time when I was holding my breath for the next Apple product release. I admire technology and believe that it has a net positive impact on our society. I felt the Apple brand inspired individualism, the highest quality, creativity, and a quest for greatness. (Of course, there are good arguments for and against all of these ideas).
I was excited to get the Apple Watch before it was released. I wanted to be an early adopter and more closely connected to the technology that I believed held so much promise. Practically, I’d use it to run and listen to music, ditching the phone arm-clip and replacing my flimsy Garmin watch. Over the years, I ended up buying several Apple Watches.
During the time I was really into the Apple Watch idea, I was bothered by one key component. It seemed very obvious, though I tried to ignore it. I fought my instinct to be repelled and tried to overcome. It seemed sacrilege to say out loud. My thoughts would fall on judgmental, deaf ears.
I have always had an interest in diet and believed I “ate healthily.” I experimented with several lifestyle diets, including pescatarian and a seven-year stint as a vegetarian in my twenties (and in the last threeish years). At 37 and newly divorced, I found myself at 210 pounds, and it was clear I was a bit overweight. I ran a lot, doing several half marathons. I didn’t understand why I wasn’t losing weight.
Then two and a half years ago, I stopped eating meat and backed off of sugar. I wasn’t paying attention, but I dropped almost twenty-five pounds. I thought it was a fluke. I relocated and developed a relationship with a new cardiologist who notified me that the artificial heart valve installed at the root of my aorta was not as effective as initially thought.
“Nice to meet you, too,” I said to the doctor.
He then told me that I could make up for this by addressing my diet. He gave me a book he himself had written about heart-healthy eating. I began to add items to my diet instead of restricting myself. I increased my daily intake of vegetables, chia and flax seeds, fruits, dark chocolate, olive oil, and leafy greens. I began to hear about the new understanding of the gut microbiome from Dr. Mark Hyman, a functional medicine doctor. I continued to lose weight though I ate, and I began to feel extraordinarily… better. I couldn’t believe how much better I felt. How could I not have known how poorly I had felt for most of my life?
In the book, Gundry discusses that a state of “chronic inflammation” can become your new normal, zapping your energy. With the small changes I made, I saw serious results. I had more energy, less mental fog, and my body looked better than it had when I was younger.
At a high level, both Gundry and Hyman are leading the charge to revolutionize our food chain. Our cultural food habits and the supply chain in which these functions are leading us to fatigue, obesity, diabetes, and a large part in the mental health crisis.
Here are some paradigm-shifting ideas in this book.
The Inflamed Body
The food in our supply chain causes inflammation. Inflammation is at the root of most of our health issues in the west. It is important to note that inflammation is the immune system’s response to potentially dangerous invaders in the body. Chronic, low-grade inflammation is responsible for most of the damage to our bodies. According to Gundry, this inflammation is caused by three “L’s,” leaky gut, lectins, and LPS’s.
Leaky gut refers to the breaching of the one-celled thick lining in our intestines. Seventy to eighty percent of our immune system is in our gut, therefore causing inflammation. Next, lectins are proteins found in plants to defend against being eaten. They do this by tearing the gut walls in the hopes that the animal that eats it thinks, “Wow, eating that was a bad idea.” (Have you ever heard of the famous lectin gluten?) And finally, LPS’s or lipopolysaccharides, pieces of cell walls that sneak through the cell lining in the intestines causing the inflammation response.
This consistently inflamed state not only zaps our energy but can cause a variety of other health conditions. Dr. Gundry reports that all of his patients who reported fatigue issues had some form of the leaky gut caused by their diet.
A Societal Crisis
Gunrdy makes the claim that our western diet leaves us overfed and underpowered. The larger supporting claim is that the food that we grow is nutrient deficient due to the quality of the soil in which it is grown. He quotes a senate document from 1936 stating this fact! This deterioration of our food quality leads to subsequent degradation of our microbiome. We are digesting food sixteen hours a day and eating more than we need to top it off. Three out of four Americans are overweight.
Our microbiome refers to the trillions of microorganisms living in our intestinal tract. Much of the food we eat feeds them, and they in turn help us with digestion, energy production, immunity, and other essential tasks. Without proper nutrients, we aren’t feeding the microbiome. Or we may be overfeeding the wrong bacteria in our gut, as is the case in the bacterial overgrowths associated with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).
The microbiome seems to have more to do with how you feel, think, and act than your brain. This is part and parcel of the mental health crisis facing our society. There are more than one hundred million neurons in your gut – more than in your spine. Most serotonin is produced in the gut. There is a clear relationship between the brain and the gut just beginning to be understood. A symbiotic and carefully balanced arrangement exists where stress can cause digestive issues and digestive issues can cause stress, for example. Imbalances and irritation in the gut can send signals to the brain, causing anxiety or depression and vice versa.
Gundry pronounces that the first step in healing anxiety, depression, attentional issues, and cognitive impairment may be in the reparation of the gut lining. The lack of high-nutrient, whole food is not only zapping our energy, but it is also causal to the state of our mental health concerns in the west.
The Fatigue Pandemic
The book’s focus is on energy. Many of us feel as though we are running on empty most of the time. Or, maybe we’re not aware of how much better we could feel, as I discovered. The book is packed with intriguing stories of patients coming to Gundry self-diagnosing themselves with all kinds of interesting ailments. All successfully treated by adjusting their diet.
Of interest, the prevalence of sugar in our food is known to have a detrimental effect on our health. Fructose, the sugar in fruit, is in most of the food that we eat. Our fruit has been genetically engineered to have more fructose than naturally occurring fruits. We were not evolved to digest this quantity of fructose. Here’s why.
In the digestion process, fructose is sent immediately to your liver and converted into fatty acid palmitate. Then it is sent into your bloodstream. Glucose, another type of cell fuel, is injected directly into your bloodstream. When you eat sugar, the cell is hit with both glucose and fatty palmitate. The problem is that two separate processes are required for the cell to convert each substance into energy. The result is gridlock at a cellular level. As a result, we feel…tired, groggy. Other issues come from the overconsumption of sugar, such as diabetes, and are related to this process.
The idea is to keep it simple for your mitochondria, the engine of your cells switching between processes to create our energy. Interestingly, this is why “mono-diets,” such as the Atkins diet, the egg diet, the keto diet, etc., work. They simplify the energy-making process for your cells. On the other hand, they are tough to maintain.
Why This Should Matter to You
Most of the food easily available to us is causing this issue. The antibiotics used in chicken and beef are a major detriment to our microbiome, affecting the way we feel and our overall mental health. The food being mass-produced is not the same food it was fifty or one hundred years ago. It is nutrient deficient. Also, a lot of new research coming forth on the gut microbiome is both tentative and paradigm-shifting. This research didn’t exist five years ago. Dr. Gundry is quick to point out that much of this information is so new that many of our doctors may not even be aware of it. The research seems to claim that we really are what we eat.
So what should be we eat?
The book contains recipes and lists of foods that can be eaten with positive affect. Broccoli, Brussel sprouts, arugula, kale, and cauliflower top the list of energy-increasing vegetables for me. Olive oil (uncooked) for salads and coconut oil for cooking are my preferences in line with Gundry’s suggestions. Walnuts, pistachios, pecans, and almonds are all my preference and are on the cleared list.
For seafood, make sure it is all wild-caught and not farm-raised. Beef should be 100% grass-fed and beef, chicken, and seafood limited to 4 ounces per day.
A word of caution on “plant-based meats.” Many contain lectins which are a no-no for that gut lining. Soy and black beans are often the culprits, but there are others as well. Though beans, chickpeas, legumes, and lentils all contain lectins, they are okay to eat if prepared in a pressure cooker. (*note – I’ve just noticed that chia seeds are on the no-no list.)
Common items on the no-no list:
Potatoes (potato chips)
The book has some creative and fun recipes I look forward to trying. For example, cauliflower waffles, millet and strawberry porridge, and shockingly healthy broccoli casserole.
If this seems out of reach for you and your family, that’s okay. I’ve looked for several items on Dr. Gundry’s list and I cannot find some of them. So there is the issue of finding the food. Luckily, I rarely find food I don’t enjoy. If this is not the case with your family, do what you can. Make one small change at a time. It doesn’t seem like much, yet it’s better than doing nothing.
I have increasingly realized the ‘boiling frog’ metaphor at work in my life. For the first thirty-seven years, I was eating poorly not realizing how poorly I felt. I was not making changes and as a result, sitting in water beginning to boil. I was not aware of the discomfort and detriment to my health my diet caused. I made some changes and got remarkable results in the way I felt. Sometimes I wonder if I’m still in the water, heating up and there is an unawareness of my discomfort as well as an obvious solution.
I wonder if making more smaller changes … could I make more improvements?
We are in the midst of a crisis of meaning, inundated with cultural images and pressures signaling status and prestige, dictating what is deemed socially acceptable. The cancel culture, the culture wars, and the fear of being excluded have us expending a tremendous amount of attention to the millions of messages to which we are exposed each day.
Here we are, entering year 42. The last year has been a year of exponential growth, joy, and inevitable pain. My personal life has gone through dramatic changes. I’ve tested the limits of my physical body and thus worked my way through injury. I’ve learned. I’ve learned how to learn. I have an instinctual feeling that I am on the correct trajectory.
(I also need to rant. There is no f#cking way I am 42? I feel better than I ever have been. I’m healthier, more active, and better mentally equipped! This age number is really a thorn in my side. I feel actual anger when I think about it! What have I been doing to waste all of this time and arrive now to some semblance of a good place?)
In my last update, I updated the tenets to my manifesto as follows…
As the second installment in our Flow Series, we look at the Flow Cycle, its function, and potential in our lives.
There are four stages in the Flow Cycle – struggle, release, flow, and recovery. All are equally important in achieving the third stage and the goal of the cycle, Flow. The Flow definition is an optimal state of consciousness where we feel our best and perform our best. The aim here is to create a sense of intense engagement in our lives, enhancing a sense of meaning, purpose, and well-being.
Maybe you’ve had the same fantasy, you’re fully engaged, energized, passionate, and living the life of your dreams. You’re rising to your potential and pushing beyond. You’re reaching your highest aims, connected with your “people” and still having more gas left in the tank.
If you’re like me, this sounds too good to be true. But the science of flow intends to help take us to this very destination.
More than seventeen million people in the United States and 264 million people worldwide live with depression1. Making it one of the most common mental health concerns, depression may be a misdiagnosis for a more specific kind of depression, called Bipolar Disorder. The disorder is among the most misunderstood, feared, and stigmatized mental health diagnoses. Many of us may know someone affected by BD and have seen firsthand how the symptoms of this illness can impact a loved one’s life.
Lepera is popularly known as the “holistic psychologist” on social media. Holistic is defined as “characterized by the treatment of the whole person, taking into account mental and social factors, rather than just the symptoms of a disease.” With all of the academic divisions busy within their silos, there is a need for a holistic discipline. It’s possible for academics to not be aware of the connectivities between and among the disciplines.
It is part of our existence. One third of Americans are in chronic pain. What is the meaning of pain?
Pain and suffering are part of the human condition – we all experience them. While it’s obvious that pain is meant to protect us from destroying our body (as is the case with physical pain) or to avoid potentially threatening situations (in the case of emotional pain). Many report that peace can be found through the crucible of suffering. This idea is embedded in our culture, religions, and in modern philosophy. At a deeper level, pain can be heavily influenced by our perceptions and expectations. To many, pain may define their lives.
It’s your mind, right? Use it the way you want to use it!
Our minds are wondrous, complicated, and not fully understood. Currently, science is making some large leaps in the understanding of its functioning. By extension, how we can make it work the way we want. Many of us struggle with lack of motivation, energy, and/or chronic stress, anxiety, and depression. Effects of these experiences range from sleeplessness and high blood pressure to racing thoughts and the inability to fully function to our potential. Scientists and researchers seek to find the physical root of these experiences to better understand why and how they occur.
Note that some of these experiences are very serious and should be treated as such. For many of us, there is much we can do to make our minds work for us.
The impact, symptoms, and what you should do about it.
Psychology Today defines codependency as “a relationship in which, by being caring, highly-functional, and helpful, one is said to support, perpetuate, or enable a loved one’s irresponsible or destructive behavior.”1This enabled behavior may also be abusive. Codependency originally was a title given to relationships involving substance abuse2. However, it is now widely applicable and widespread.
A Story of Defeating a Truly Terrifying Enemy… Yourself.
Bliss, the new movie starring Salma Hayak and Owen Wilson on Amazon Prime, is a very human, otherworldly delve into the human psyche. Greg Whittle (played by Wilson) suffers from an unspecified mental illness and has recently gone through a divorce. Now, he is about to get fired. This marks the doorway to Whittle’s psychological break.
First introducing the idea in 2011, James Fadiman Ph. D presented survey data illustrating benefits of microdosing at a conference on psychedelic research1. Fadiman offered the practice as an alternative to Adderall and other focus aids.
What do Matthew McConaughey, Ann Frank, Marcus Aurelius, Albert Einstein, Fredrick Douglass, Mark Twain, Leonardo Da Vinci, and Ryan Holiday have in common?
They all are famous (at least in part) for keeping a Journal. McConaughey recently published a memoir called Greenlights, sourcing material from his personal journals. Ann Frank’s diaries provided insight into the Nazi occupation during World War II. And Ryan Holiday’s modern stoic pondering lead him to report journaling as the most important activity you can do each day.
Where did (do) we get ideas about romantic relationships?
Where did (do) we get ideas about romantic relationships?
Parents or caregivers, of course. Yet, we often don’t consider the source of our relational conceptions to be movies. In many cases, this is the primary source.
When I was young, I had my first real conception of what romantic love should be viewing the movie Jewel of the Nile. Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner adventure through Columbia, attempting to find the fabled “jewel”. Douglas (Jack) plays the arrogant man, overconfident and fool-hardy, and Turner (Joan) a career-driven writer, overly-romanticizing every instance. Joan is lured by the Columbian dictator, and Jack sets out to rescue her with the help of his friends. During the course of their adventure, they rekindle their stale relationship, are married, and live happily ever after.
Introducing a new content category: Intersections.
Intersections will cover the intersection between psychology, culture, and entertainment. Culture and entertainment can have an enormous impact on who we are, our lives, and our psychology. Movies, music, television, and other cultural events will be discussed in this particular category. However, the focus will be on individual experience, cultural consciousness, and psychology.
Minimalism Fights the External Battles Mindfulness Fights Internally.
Part of our cultural identity is consumerism. We are taught to consume. It is bred into us. We signal status, security, and purpose with what we consume, what we buy. I believe it’s a slow killer of the human spirit. Marketers use deficit advertising: ads giving us the impression we are not enough. It plays to our insecurities and fears. The idea we could be better if we only had Product X.
Daily, @whoareweblog on Instagram, a thought-provoking quote is posted. It is intended to shift paradigms, inspire, and/or give perspective. Often, personal experience is considered in searching for quotes. Just as often, society’s experience is considered. Here, We dive into the top 8 Life-Saving Quotes of the Day posted in the year past.
“God Have Mercy on the Man Who Doubts What He’s Sure of…”
Loneliness is at an all-time high in our society. Now, we enter a holiday season socially-distanced.
With COVID-19 cases on the rise, holidays surrounded (physically) by family seem less and less a good idea. As the pandemic reaches a peak, we are more likely to be physically and emotionally alone. Survey data (pre-pandemic) reports that almost half of participants sometimes or always feel alone1. What’s more, the root cause is identified as social isolation or the lack of social connection. Loneliness is associated with mental and physical health issues, from depression and dementia to heart failure and stroke2. For those of us with a mental illness, the holidays tend to just make it worse3.
Inspiring stories of those who achieved their dreams later in life
As we age, it can feel like a clock is ticking. A “scarcity mindset” with regard to time can take hold. And still, the message in our culture is that ‘youth is king’ and ‘forty is over the hill’. I’ve had this feeling. I’ve had the idea ‘what I’m doing is not an expression of who I am!?’ This is not the career for me! I wish I could...and a whole list of ideas and potential regrets comes to mind.
The need for novelty is human. Change is necessary to keep us invigorated. The average person changes careers at age 391. Being 40 and having these thoughts, it appears I’m in good company.
The Best Recent Titles for Inspiration, Motivation and Personal Revolution
More information is published on just about any subject than ever before. As Tesla founder Elon Musk says, “You don’t need college to learn stuff… you can learn anything you want for free.”1 I adore this piece of advice.
There are two challenges when attempting to learn on your own. First, determining what’s important. Second, clearing the static created by the barrage of available information. So we’ll limit what’s important to psychology, self-improvement and insight. And let’s just say the purpose of this article is to clear the static!
In the last five years, print book sales have reached 650 million. Printed books maintain popularity over digital and audio version of the same. Sixty-five percent of adults in the US have read a printed book in the last twelve months2. Educational material has never been more in reach for human kind than in this moment, right now.
The following are seven must read books! These books will shift your paradigm, motivate and inspire you.
In early July, I posted an article called “My 40’s Manifesto”. I have made it a point to keep the tenets of my manifesto top of mind. Also, I decided I’d provide updates intermittently. Perhaps some of you will get some enjoyment on my trials and tribulations during my search for enlightenment post forty.
Later in life, I am finding that I am attached to some ideas that don’t add up. These ideas have and are having a serious impact on my life. One of them I am trying to move beyond is materialism. Many studies show that those who are materialistic have a lower social and personal well being18.
I didn’t have a whole lot of money for most of my life. I couldn’t get all the “stuff” that I desired. This was extremely troubling. I felt a “less-than” feeling around all of my peers. Notably, when I was only ten or so, I refused to leave a shoe store until my father bought be a pair of Jordan’s for me, for the upcoming basketball season. (We eventually decided on Reebok Pumps).
Two hundred years ago it was 1820. The population was less than one billion. The most common mode of transportation was your own two feet. Or, if you were in business, it was a boat navigating a canal system. The feared kings of Rome and England, with all of their cruelty and wielded power did not have the kind of silent, immediate and fierce power that we now have.
It’s Mental Health Awareness Week (Oct. 4-Oct. 10). The World Health Organization estimates between 30% and 80% of people with mental health concerns don’t seek treatment1. On Armchair Expert Podcast, it was reported that it takes five years for someone with depression to seek treatment.
The average person suffers for five years before taking steps to address it!
I ask every person I interview “If money was not an issue, how would you spend your life?” Almost everyone answers, traveling! As human beings, we love travel. Studies show that we are more optimistic about our work after travel and we improve social connections and communication skills1. Among other things, traveling alone can boost confidence, provide a greater peace of mind and bring you more in touch with yourself2.
On a recent expedition, I had several realizations of my own. Among them, five reasons why we love to travel!
Our beliefs about politics are personal. We don’t like to discuss our beliefs as a measure of self-protection. Often, for good reason. Here are some things to keep in mind about politics and our interactions with other humans.
In civilized company, it’s something we’re not to discuss. It’s divisive, personal and uncomfortable. Yet, it’s implied and assumed in almost everything we do. From the car you drive to your feelings on vaccinations and face masks. It is widely assumed these feelings are related to your political positions. People are more afraid now in 2020 to share political beliefs compared to in 201714.
A strange anxiety hangs in the background of my psychology this year. If you’re like me, when the summer fades a fog moves in. I’m less engaged, tired. There’s a loss of hope and inspiration. I want to sleep all the time.
Older now, I have an anxiety about this state and these feelings. The things I’ve tried in the past during these periods didn’t seem to help. As fall rapidly approaches, I need a gameplan.
How do we defeat SAD?!
In the following we’ll discuss The 4 Things You Should do NOW to help prevent Seasonal Affective Disorder.
As an undergrad majoring in psychology, I was moved and inspired by the Myers-Briggs Personality Inventory. Often referred to as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator or MBTI, this personality test is perhaps the most controversial of its kind. Critics claim the science supporting MBTI doesn’t add up. On the other hand, those who do believe in its utility often do so in the extreme.
Upon first taking the test, I was revealed as an INTJ. Introverted iNtuitive Thinking Judging. According to the book, Please Understand Me II, by David Keirsy, this was less than 2% of the population! At that point in my life, I truly felt alien to my fellow humans. The test proved my feeling, I was rare! It also gave a sense of normalcy to my experiences and thoughts. Among other things, it reported that I couldn’t stand small talk! Wow! I was reading my fortune!
Belief is “the ability to combine histories and experiences with imagination, to think beyond the here and now”1. Our minds are meaning machines. And so it’s pursuit is to find (or create) the meaning of everything. Further, what we consider our reality is a function of what we believe, not visa versa. Throughout human history, people have been either castigated or commended for their beliefs. If you were cast out of the “tribe”, this equated a death sentence. Consequently, our beliefs have evolved to be relevant and important to our lives. Often feeling like a matter of life and death.
And so, these are the four things you need to know about your beliefs.
Time Anxiety is the pervasive feeling of being rushed, causing feelings of overwhelmingness and panic1. It can be in relation to current time, future time or existential time – fear of time slipping away without meaning.
Though many people experience these various forms, they are all connected. While I am consistently fighting this anxiety, it is always fighting back.
In Time Anxiety, there is an overwhelming sense of time lack. There is a process of thoughts taking up a lot of mental bandwidth. This anxiety impacts functioning in other areas of life. Due to this anxiety, I haven’t engaged in relationships as well. I haven’t accomplished as much as I’d like. And finally, I haven’t done a lot of the things that I wish that I had at this point in my life.
But, I’ve made serious headway in dealing with it and I’ve almost beat it.
Your preferred music genre gives a lot of insight into your personality. Researchers have recently made a connection between the big five personality traits and the music we listen to. To start, take your test HERE.This is a pretty cool test and helps out the folks continuing to do this research.
Draper’s words hit an emotional core. As a result, I’ve used this scene several times to express my feelings and experiences. I felt like I was just watching my life. I wasn’t actually in it. It was impossible for me to get in to.