SJH

Shatter Your Entire View Of Health

Join others getting their entire idea of what health is shattered every Sunday while reading Health Decoded.

September 17, 2023 | Max Jenkinson

The Art of Meaning; How To Make Anything Meaningful

In many ways, school sets us up for failure.

The school system came to life during the Industrial Revolution to take care of the children of industry workers. It was cleverly designed to slowly transform free children into good workers.

This is not a conspiracy but a fact.

Since the late 1800s, the school system has remained largely unchanged.

It teaches us that everything is either right or wrong, a false dichotomy leaving us tribally invested in ideas.

It teaches us to obey authority and to not think for ourselves because either the teacher or the books know better.

It teaches us to do work that we have not chosen, during a time we haven’t chosen either.

Despite this, I’m going to make an argument that school is not useless. It’s not for the reason you may think.

I’m not here to act like your parent and tell you that school will get you a good job and a good life.

And even if you are not currently in school this will help you reframe your perspective so that what you are doing may fill a specified purpose.

 

Autonomy, Meaning & School

Autonomy, or the sense of freely making your own decisions, is one of the key factors in human well-being. But the overarching concept that underpins human flourishing is meaning.

Meaning is derived from a congruency of;

Purpose; a higher-order goal that we are aiming at.

Values; principles we stand upon when deciding what we should do so that we move one inch closer toward our aim.

Contol; a sense of autonomy in what direction our life takes (a sense that we are in control of where we go).

Self-worth; something derived from our alignment between actions and the three previously mentioned things.

For most of us, school misses all these points.

School is something we “have” to do, at least when we’re young. We usually learn about a bunch of stuff we are not interested in. And, we are forced to take tests on the information which then determines our future to some degree.

For many of us, we feel that what we are learning is useless. We do not choose what we learn, and what we learn has nothing to do with what we value.

To generate meaning from anything, all four points need to be active.

We can do this by using the concept of meta-skills.

 

Meta-skills & The Art of Meaning

Skills are temporary; meta-skills are permanent

Gustavo Razzeti

There are an infinite amount of skills you could learn.

So, which ones should you focus on?

Meta-skills are skills that permeate a plethora of activities. They are skills that help us in all aspects of life.

Because of this, they can be improved by doing almost anything as long as you first become aware of them.

There are a few of these meta-skills that I think all humans, because of the fact that we are human, should focus on.

Instead of viewing maths as a subject, I would have no use for in life, I viewed it as a way of improving my,

  • discipline

  • logical thinking

  • problem-solving skills

The three skills would surely help me at any point in my future.

All of a sudden what I did during math lessons felt in my control. My actions aligned with a higher-order goal of increasing skills I knew would serve me for a long time.

This gave maths a purpose.

I also quickly realized this idea could be applied to all subjects. After that insight, I came to the conclusion that it could be applied to anything we do.

School, work, hobbies, hanging with, friends, travelling, etc.

If you view whatever you are doing through the lens of increasing your meta-skills you can derive a sense of meaning regardless of what you are doing.

Isn’t this the goal in life?

Feeling a sense of control over what you are doing, and why you are doing it?

Aligning what you are doing with what you value so that you generate a sense of self-worth while moving toward your purpose.

You don’t always get to choose what you are doing, but you always get to choose the purpose of why you are doing it.

Ask yourself, what character trait can I use this activity to improve that will help me for a very long time?

Assigning a purpose to what you are doing focuses your subconscious attention on what you should do. It allows you to do whatever moves you toward your defined goal.

If it’s to become more disciplined, you’ll become more disciplined.

If it’s to become a better speaker, you’ll become a better speaker.

If it’s to become more wise, you’ll become more wise.

Assigning a purpose is like giving a complicated algorithm (you) an objective function (purpose). All you then have to do is to act spontaneously in the moment.

A lot of suffering comes from the questioning of why you are doing what you are doing.

Defining a purpose helps us accept that what we are doing is what we are doing. It removes doubt and allows us to be fully immersed in the experience at hand.

Understanding the concept of meta-skills creates a simple way of aligning what you are doing with a common goal. And, as I have said before, humans need to at least feel as if they are improving to feel good.

Before I leave you to enjoy the rest of your day I’d like to go over some meta-skills I believe would benefit all humans, (and thus you).

 

Meta-skills; Aligning action with purpose

Meta-skill 1: Becoming good at becoming good at something

One thing that makes humans unique is our ability to learn new things and to become better at what we already know.

For many animals, it takes multiple generations before they succeed in solving an old problem. For us, it might not even take a day.

Our mental horsepower is what separates us in the animal kingdom. We constantly learn new things, in school, at work, or at home.

To become better at something entails putting ourselves inside of a given hierarchy and then slowly moving ourselves up it.

Think of whatever you are doing like a game or sport, something like jiu-jitsu.

The better we understand the rules of the game and the moves we can make the easier it is to practice. By doing this we can more easily determine the fastest way forward.

If you know the way broadly you will see it in all things.

Miyamoto Musashi

Instead of focusing on the task at hand we can zoom out and focus on becoming better at becoming better.

By doing this we can disconnect our emotional attachment to what is happening right now and instead use it as a tool to become better over time.

The better we are at becoming good, the faster it becomes and the more things we can learn.

Here are three short tips to get the ball rolling.

1) Make a habit of learning new things

You can do this by attending online courses, reading books or taking on projects.

It does not need to be something intellectual but can be something physical or creative as long as it is of interest.

2) Take the online course Learning How To Learn (Free)

This is an amazing course on the fundamentals of how humans learn in the most efficient way possible.

3) Put things in a broader perspective

To understand what a tree is do not start with the details of the leaves.

How do the facts fit into the whole?

Start with the fundamentals, and work your way up from simplicity to complexity.

To first learn the intricate details and then derive a model the details fit into is difficult, ineffective and demanding. Start with the simplest model you can understand and increase the complexity over time.

Meta-skill 2: Focus in a world of distraction

As humans, we have an innate drive toward progress. We have always had to be one step ahead of the looming threat of death.

When this threat no longer exists it makes it hard for us to have to motivation to do hard things.

In Digital Minimalism, one of my favourite authors Cal Newport makes the case that the skill of focus is one of the most valuable skills to have. This is because, in the age of information overload, this skill is slowly being lost.

The fewer people that have something the more valuable it becomes.

Focus works like a muscle. The more you train it the better it becomes.

We need to actively do demanding activities during a period of time. After a period of rest, we can go into a period of focus again.

If we do this, day after day, and slowly increase the time spent in absolute focus, our focus muscle will grow in size, and become stronger and more resilient.

But, most of us have a hard time focusing on something demanding for more than ten minutes.

However, people who have grown their focus muscle for decades can spend hours in deep focus every single day.

Just look at this video and tell me you are not inspired to “work out”.

Focus is the tool we use to get things done, and to derive meaning we need to get things we want done. If we work on our focus muscle we increase the amount of things we can get done in a week, a month and a year.

We also increase the amount of time spent on things that give us meaning, things that are demanding and fill a purpose.

In other words, we move our life in a direction we’ve chosen, we become more effective at moving us there, and we spend more time on things we find meaningful.

Win-win-win!

Meta-skill 3: Adaptability, the skill for a dynamic life

We continuously change while living in a constantly changing environment.

Circumstances outside of our control change all the time. The future is, and always will be, unpredictable.

We will be met with setbacks regardless if we want to or not.

Some are better than others at handling life’s inherent unpredictability.

As humans, we have inbuilt mechanisms that make it difficult to see reality for what it is. We twist and turn things even if the twisting most often is counterproductive.

To develop adaptability we need to learn how to see circumstances for what they are and not for what we want them to be.

Let’s learn how to do this.

There are three subcategories of adaptability (that all are their own meta-skills):

1) Self-awareness

We need to get to know ourselves as unique individuals and humans.

Here, evolutionary biology and psychology are excellent areas to study. The more we understand humans generally the more we understand ourselves practically.

And, the more we understand ourselves the easier it will be to notice when we do, think or say something that is not aligned with ourselves.

2) Problem-solving

We are problem-solving machines. Becoming a better problem solver will permeate your entire life.

You can do this by actively solving more problems, or researching how to solve problems in the most efficient way. I recommend you look up the concept of reasoning from first principles.

3) Anti-fragility

This meta-skill is all about the ability to handle demanding situations. You increase it by voluntarily exposing yourself to demanding activities.

I wrote an entire previous newsletter on this (you can read it here).

 

Humans are an animal that needs to improve to feel good.

It’s how we generate a sense of self-worth and the motivation to move forward toward whatever goal we have chosen.

If we do things we “have” to do that we think are “useless” we need to either change what we are doing or change our perspective. I recommend the latter as it is easier.

What meta-skill can be developed through the activities you are doing anyway?

View meta-skills as character traits you want to develop. Assign a meta-skill as the purpose of the activity. Now use the activity to move toward your goal (purpose).

What you are doing now fills a productive purpose in your life making it easier to accept that what you are doing is what you want to be doing.

Only once the doubt is removed are we allowed into the present to enjoy the moment at hand.

The moment is the place we are all striving to exist within. Just look at any spiritual practice ever created.

What meta-skills do you want to improve?

Improve those.

And until next Sunday, do what makes your future self proud.

Why Life Has To Be Hard

Has anything worthwhile ever been easy? If not, why are we constantly searching for the easy way...

The Final Diet Boss: Intuitive Eating

Here's how you eat what you want, when you want, to get and maintain the body you want...

Eating More Protein Could Fix It All

Eating more quality protein could fix most of your health issues. Is it really that simple? Let's...

Grow Up & Eat Real Food

Let's gain a firm grip on why eating real food matters. To do so we need to, of all things, turn to...

Why You Might Want To Quit Social Media For Good

There is a reason why social media is messing with our minds and it's not what you think...

Turning The Food Pyramid Upside Down

Eat the opposite of what you've been told and you'll become a super human...

How To Be Healthy

The Minimal Effective Dose For Health...

Making Food Make Sense

Our bodies are not perfect, but, they're trying their very best at keeping us healthy. Eating a diet...

Your Body Is Confused By What You’re Eating

Food is information. If your body cannot understand what the food coming in is it will make...

You Are Doing Cardio Wrong

Most people doing cardio are shooting themselves in the foot. There are way more time efficient ways...

4 Harsh Truths To Make You Healthy

4 uncomfortable truths that will force you to reshape your view on health. The world wants you to be...

How To Lose Weight (And Keep It Off)

The train more, eat less is for most people is terrible advice. All we need to do is help our body...

The Only Reason You Need to Get Into The Cold

Is cold water immersion healthy or not? After reading this it won't matter. A short post on why it...

Expand Your Time Frame: Success Will Come

This is a post about the forever elusive question: What determines success? I think it's an...

Beyond the Rat Race: The Art of Problem-Solving

Exploring the transformative power of problem-solving. Discover a three-step formula to shift your...

The Human Ecosystem: Navigating the Terrain of Chronic Disease

Exploring Chronic Disease, Cellular Disruptions, and the Path to Optimal Health...

The Secret Athletes Use To Look Great

Pro athletes look good. There is something they do that we normies can use to build an athletic body...

Hidden Superpower: A Key To Good Health

Superpowers, we all want them but none of us have them. Or do we? There is a real superpower we all...

Look Better By Breathing Correct

Let's find out why mothers in tribal societies constantly shut the mouths of their infants...

Simple Things Repeated Changes Lives

Doing the fundamentals for an unappealing amount of time is how we get the results we want...

The Dopaminergic Journey: Crafting Your Environment for Optimal Well-Being

Good health is more about avoiding what is unhealthy rather than implementing what is healthy. To do...

The Domino Effect: Why Physical Health Must Come First

Everyone wants to achieve greatness, yet most people don't even start their journey. The reason...

The Present Is The Solution

Four books with four perspectives on the present all converge on the fact that our success as humans...

The Impact of Dopamine Is WAY Larger Than You Think

The Impact of Dopamine Is WAY Larger Than You Think...

This is Why You Don’t Reach Your Goals (How To Rewire Your Mind)

It comes down to a brain molecule that was hijacked. It used to cause us to strive for a better...

How To Not Be Fake In A Fake World

The rise of atheism, materialism and social media has put many of us in a dark place. It is time to...

Embrace Uncertainty: Choosing Adventure Over Safety

Take the leap! Safe is good but it isn't always anymore. We live in a place where safety keeps us...

How to Leverage Your Intuition for Better Choices

Actions -> outcome -> ideal. Wrong. Actions -> Impact -> Recalibration -> Actions -> Ideal...

Testing it out for yourself: Is sugar really that bad?

If after you start eating something you feel great, how bad could it be? Here's how you test for...

Your Sweet Tooth Is Genuine: Sugar Is Not The Enemy

We evolved on sugars. It is our preferred carbohydrate. If we got so many things wrong, maybe we got...

Sugar: A Health Food Hiding In Plain Sight?

You believe sugar is bad, so does your friends, and your mother. You've heard it so many times you...

Exercise – We Got It All Wrong

Shifting our view on exercise changes everything. The amount of movement you do during the day...

My View On Diet | After 6 Years in Nutrition

6 years obsessed with nutrition. I know more and understand less. Let me know which step you are at...

How To Earn Money Doing What You Enjoy

A new era is upon us. By leveraging the tools of the internet we can build something we love...

The Happiness Paradox: Flipping it on its head

How often do you think about happiness? In this post there might be something you still haven't...

Productive Suffering: Seeking Discomfort Is Not What You Think

A post on the one concept that had the largest impact on my well-being...

Fixing Your Gut – Fixing Your Cells – Fixing You

You are your cells. If you want to be happy you need to take your health seriously. Let's start by...

Don’t Even Think About Going On A Diet Before Reading This

Gain clarity on what to eat by removing confusion. Find out the missing link to understand more...

Understand Your Cells, Understand Yourself

Understanding our evolutionary past gets us far, but it doesn't get us all the way. Let's get to...

From Vision to Action: A Practical Guide to Implementing Change in 4 Steps

Change needs to occur slowly and gradually. Sustainable personal development is what we want. Here's...

The Clear Way – How to Actually Change

Real change is hard. Mostly because we don't know what we want & we are terrible at doing things we...

How To Prepare For The AI Revolution

The AI Revolution might change everything. Even if it doesn't, it's worth preparing for. Here's how...

From Hibernation to Obesity: The Seed Oil Connection

Obesity: The chronic preparation for a period of starvation that never comes...

The Big Fat Lie: Seed Oils VS The Best Nutrition Studies Ever Made

The Hidden Data That Exposed the Seed Oil Scam. How the Best Nutritional Studies Ever Made Revealed...

The Dark Side of Seed Oil Fat: Why It’s Different and Why It’s Bad for You

A short run down of what fats are & three aspects that make fat in seed oils different...

The Only Dietary Explanation For Disease

There is one food most aren't aware of that is likely a major driver of disease. Find out which one...

Seed Oils – Our Largest Dietary mistake

A brief history of how seed oils snook their way into our diet...

The 4 Secret Habits For Effortless Health

6 years of knowledge distilled into 4 habits to reclaim control of your health...

Nutrition Advice No One Gives – That Every One Should Follow

A simple framework to maintain a great body, & great energy...

Shatter Your Entire View Of Health

Join others getting their entire idea of what health is shattered every Sunday while reading Health Decoded.