None Of This Is Natural
Ep. 116
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Do you ever feel like you should just be grateful for what you have?

You wonder why you can’t just feel happy and fulfilled. Everyone else tells you that you should. You have a great job. You make a good living. Maybe you’re just crazy for wanting something else.

I’m here to tell you that you’re not.

And there is a really good reason you probably feel restless and unfulfilled.

It’s because the lives we lead today are not natural.

Our brain has evolved for tens of thousands of years.

For more than 90% of human existence, we were hunters and gatherers. We only spent 15 hours of week searching for food. The rest was used for play, socializing, making art, music and more.

Certainly there are lots of benefits from the advent of technology. But we can’t deny that our brains are not equipped to sit in front of a screen for 12 hours a day, never have time for rest, and to be under constant stress.

It’s not a huge mystery why so many of us are depressed and anxious.

And, yet, we never address the root of the actual problem.

Well, today on the podcast, I’m diving in.

We go deep into the actual problem and what you can do about it.

Show Transcript
Hello, my beautiful friends. Welcome back to another episode. I'm so excited to have you here. And I can't wait to dive in. I wanted to let you know if you're liking the mindset stuff, which... Thank you so much for reaching out and letting me know. I'm so glad so many of you have liked it. I am running a challenge from October 12th to the 14th. It's a three-day challenge and it's all focused on going deeper into the mindset blocks that are keeping you stuck from finding the dream career that you want to have. So we will be working on finding your own path by really uncovering what is keeping you stuck, where you are now. So if you want to join, I would love to have you in the challenge, sign up at quitter Okay. Today's episode is all about how none of the life that we are doing is natural.

And that is why so many of us are likely unhappy. And so we're going to explore this a little bit more and I'll explain what I mean and what I think it means for you and what you should do about it. Okay. So I want to talk about modern societies and the workplace and all that good stuff, but I'm going to start with a story. Just stick with me. If you haven't already read Glennon, Doyle's untamed, a book that she released this year called untamed. It's a New York times bestseller. One of my favorite books of the year. Just an incredible book. You should read it. But the first chapter, the way that the book starts off is she is describing a visit that she had with her daughter to the zoo. And at the zoo, there was an exhibit with a cheetah. This exhibit brought out most of the families.

And during the act, the cheetah kind of chases this car, that's dragging this little monkey around and kind of runs around. And then when it's done, they give it a steak and the zookeeper is answering questions. And one of the little girls asks, isn't the cheetah sad doesn't she missed the wild. And the zookeeper says, no, she was born here. This is the only home she knows. She has a really good life here. She's happy. She's safer than she would be out in the wild. She's perfectly happy. And linen is watching this cheetah kind of off to the side. That, and as the cheetah is pacing back and forth along the perimeter, and she imagines what the cheetah is thinking. And she imagined that the cheetah is looking out beyond this fence, thinking just something doesn't feel right. My life feels like it should have been different than this.
More beautiful than this. I should be sleeping under the stars. I should be running across the desert. I should be hunting and chasing animals. And as it's thinking this, it turns around and it looks at the nice zookeeper and the steak that it has, and it's a cage. And she starts thinking, I guess I should just be happy. I have a good life here. Maybe I'm crazy. And Glennon thinks herself. I wanted to say to this cheetah, you're not crazy. You're a goddamn cheetah. And the story is so profound. And I feel like the book is even more profound than that, but it really sums up what is happening in so many of our lives, right? Like we are in very unnatural living situations. And we wonder why it is taking such a toll on our health, both mentally and physically. And then we add on this layer of guilt and shame that we shouldn't feel this way, that we should just be happy, that things are easier in a lot of ways.
Things are better in a lot of ways. And so should, we should suck it up. And a lot of this is really looking at like, sure, maybe we have to make it work within the paradigm that we have, but just telling ourselves to suck it up and be grateful. It doesn't look at the root of the problem and doesn't get us to understand, like what can we be doing to maybe alleviate some of the feelings that we have. And that's really what I want to talk about today. The lives that we lead are not natural, obviously. We have to figure out a way to work within them. I get it. But before we do, I just want to take a step back. So we're all on the same page. And I want you to just really think about your life and expand your thinking of like all of human history to the way that we live in modern society, right?
Scientists estimate that the latest evolution of our brain, like the prefrontal cortex, where we got from is about 40,000 years old. Our current way of living is what 150, like, you know, with technologies that we've have, it's clearly speeding up even faster and evolving in an unprecedented rate. But even if we go beyond the like modern history of the last a hundred, 200 years, 90% of human existence was the Hunter-gatherer phase. Okay. So this was about from about 4,000 years ago when agriculture kind of came about is when it changed. But before that it was always, we were Hunter-gatherers. And while a lot of times we think of that as like really hard times. And I don't pretend to know how hard it was. And I'm sure there are many aspects of it that are hard. Anthropologists have studied this and found that humans only spent about 15 hours of their week looking for food, actually hunting and gathering.
And the rest of the time was spent on art and socializing and making clothing and playing games and concocting instruments and gossiping and all this other stuff. And the reason we have language and we have art and we have all of these things is because humans kind of created this stuff, right. They had the time to do it. And it wasn't until the agricultural revolution where we started working and preparing for, you know, delaying our gratification and preparing for a future harvest. And so we didn't go from immediately having the fruit of our labor, like hunting and gathering and eating right away. And we had to look to the future and it started requiring working from sunup to sundown. And although the things that come with the agricultural revolution and this ultimately led to the industrial revolution because people didn't have to spend all their time foraging or looking for food.
And because the agricultural revolution had grown to a point to be able to sustain people that weren't even working on the farm. So not everybody had to be on a farm and we could afford other people to build other things this led to the industrial revolution. And when we fast forward to that time, and we look at the Protestant reformation and kind of the, where the origins of this Puritan work ethic came, it started society started creating the standard that the only way to serve God was to work extremely hard. And it has now become this very deeply ingrained cultural belief that the amount of work you do is kind of equal to the value to your worth as a human, to your value as a human. And that is kind of the underbelly. He liked the basis of the growth of capitalism as well.
And so, I mean, there's a very big discussion of whether the peer didn't work ethic, birth capitalism or not, and that's for another podcast. But I think that we can all agree that we have internalized these messages of hustling and hard work and these deep beliefs we have about laziness and tying our worth to our productivity. And I just want you to understand that all of that is in our head. It's all just made up no matter how much we do, it's never enough. And that's the problem with like effort is how do you know if you're putting in enough? Like, what is the measurement? It, is it really your best effort? Did you really put in your best effort? Why does it have to be your best effort? These are all questions to ask yourself, but we beat ourselves up every day.
And so many of us know that is never enough. We will always find something that we did wrong, or we could have done better. Or we could, you know, the name of the game is efficiency and how do we make it faster or better or more? And we never feel like we're living up to what we should be doing. How are we balancing it all work, life, everything working out. And we have to cram everything in there. And if you're not juggling all of these balls and there's something wrong with you, and that becomes the narrative of so many of our lives and another like parallel narrative that we have is that if it's not hard or painful, then it's not really work. It's not hard work. We have so many beliefs about it. Can't be easy if it is easy, if it comes to us easy, then that's not really considered work.
And that's why so many of us actually don't see what our strengths are because we assume usually our strengths come to us easily. And if it comes to us easily, then we don't value it. We don't think that it was that big of a deal, even though other people can't do it as well as us. And it absolutely is something that we should value. We're taught to have to push through and grind it out. And white knuckle, everything, and everything has to be hard and work isn't easy. And if it is easy, then that means you could have done more. You could have done it better. You can have done a faster. So we keep our selves busier and busier without actually accomplishing anything. I talked about this in the episode on deep work, you know, we constantly try to show that we're doing a lot.
And I think so many of us realize as like the weeks go by the months, go by the end of the year. It's like, how did this year go by? But we didn't really actually do anything besides, I mean, we did work, but we don't see huge accomplishments or creations or anything. Cause we're just keeping ourselves on this hamster wheel. And it has made us all exhausted. And it has gotten worse with acceleration of technology, which is really interesting because it is the opposite of what a lot of people had predicted. A lot of economists had predicted that the coming of new technologies would allow us to have more leisure time because as robots and computers and all these other things could do the things that humans could do much faster, they assumed that this would decrease the need for humans to be involved in a lot of the work.
And that would allow us so much more time for art and leisure. And it's really interesting to look at some of the predictions in the forties and fifties and sixties and to see what they thought was going to happen. And to now look and see that it is the exact opposite. We have the least amount of time for leisure. Now we are constantly connected to our devices. We are constantly connected to each other, whether it's by an actual expectation or our own expectations, we feel like we need to constantly be plugged in whether it's to email or social media. And we just accept this notion that we have to respond all the time, that we can't have boundaries that we can't say like, you know, I, this is when my workday ends and I'm going to go home and not check my emails like that has now become this unacceptable thing.
And like, this is just the way it is. And that's what I hear a lot from people because they don't want their bosses to be upset, or they don't want the negative ramifications that may come with setting a boundary. And so we just decided that we can't. And I also think that it comes with a badge of honor, right? We compete over everything. We literally compete over how little we sleep. We don't may not realize it, but it is this thing where you're constantly trying to prove that you really don't have time that know your life. Like I'm just really busy because I have a job and I have the kids and I have all these things and you just don't have any time. Now, luckily, the narrative is changing. There are now counter-narratives about the fact that rest is needed and that this hustle culture is a lie.
And that there's no reason that we should be working ourselves into the ground, but the implicit messages have already been absorbed for decades. Right? I did an entire episode on this, on implicit bias and that dealt more with kind of racism and misogyny and how we have adopted a lot of those messages. But it's the same thing, right? When you have been given a message your whole life, that you're only a worthy person, if you're not lazy, or if you're working hard or how much you're producing or look at that person who's done so much. And that's the why they're worth so much more. That's why they're so valuable. Even if you tell yourself I deserve rest, I deserve to sleep a good amount of time. I deserve to do things for leisure. You can think that intellectually or consciously, but subconsciously the reason so many of us struggle with the guilt.
So when we're trying to rest, like, have you ever had to take time off for like sick days and you feel guilty about it? Yeah. That's insane when you are sick and fighting off a virus or an alias or whatever, there is nothing morally wrong with you taking time off, except for our culture has decided that taking any time off is a basis for beating yourself up. I want you to think about like, when was the last time that you actively chose to do nothing. I'm not talking about like procrastinating and sitting and scrolling on your phone. And oftentimes we do this and we don't actually end up getting much else done. And I think part of that is because we don't actually have built in rest and there isn't a ton of motivation to keep pushing forward because you're constantly just pushing forward. It's like, okay, let me push hard today so that I can wake up tomorrow and then push hard again.
Right? So there are times where you actively need to rest. And yet we don't choose to do it actively. We don't schedule it in. It's not like we say, like, I'm going to take a nap today. We just end up wasting our time procrastinating with something else, whether it's Netflix or social media or whatever, it might be chatting with coworkers. And then we feel guilty about it. And then we feel like we wasted our time because we don't believe that we are entitled to actually read. And it's really interesting because we're all in some kind of rush. I always think about this when I find myself wanting to be quote-unquote there like I think I need to, I don't know, have a bigger podcast or make my business bigger. And I set this arbitrary goal that I know I'm going to move.
And I get in a bit of a rush. I find myself in a place of like, I need to get there faster. This isn't happening fast enough. And a lot of times I slow myself down and I just ask, like, why am I trying to rush through my life? Like this is part of the process. And at what point do I get to just enjoy this part of the process without wanting to get to something else, but a part of that, the basis of that thinking. And when I slow myself down to ask that question, it allows me to really reframe and realize like the harder I work to then get to another place. The harder I will have to keep working, because I have now equated that like that external marker is what I need to feel good about myself. Once I get to the next goalpost or marker, then I'll just move it to another one.
And it will never end we're rushing through our lives because we've bought into some lie that if we finally get to some destination, then we can rest, right. Maybe when it's you retire, maybe you're trying to hit it big. Like once you have a certain amount of money, but that usually will never come because that circumstance won't ever change the way that you are thinking, even when you make a certain amount of money, even when you get to a certain age, your brain, doesn't stop thinking like, well, now it's time for me to do nothing or to do what I enjoy. It has constantly equated your worth with what your output. And so you end up feeling like you still have to keep pushing forward. You have to start another business, you have to do something else. And I just want you to understand that all of it is made up.
Sometimes it's easier. When you think about this concept, when you look at other cultures, right? We see this often when you can see something that is very foreign to you. Like it does not happen in your culture. It hasn't been in somebody else's culture and it seems destructive in a way or not natural or not the best way to do something let's say, and you can look at it and be like, how odd, why would they do that? Why would the suscept themselves to this kind of a lifestyle or whatever choices, like it is just a culturally ingrained thing. And it makes no sense, but we just accept the way that our life is like the way that we live. It's like, this is just what it is. I got to go with the flow with what everybody else is doing. I guess I just have to do this, right.
Especially for my friends in America and the mass majority of my audiences in America, though. I have a lot of people in other countries whom I love you guys. But especially when you look at America, the insanity that our work culture is we have no vacation time. I mean, even when you have the vacation time... Most people don't take it. We have an abysmal maternity leave. And so women are given so many messages about breaking that glass ceiling and getting back into the workforce. But we don't ever look at what they need once they have a child and really understand the emotional and mental and physical support, they need and time for recovery. So they can come back and feel like a whole human. And so then we, women internalize feeling guilty for not being able to bounce back faster. We have some insane examples like Marissa Mayer when she was the CEO at Yahoo and she had her babies and decided to like take a two week maternity leave, it's just insane.
And so then that sets an example of what women should be able to do. And we should, I don't know, decide that we want to prove that we can bounce back faster or like we don't need to take care of our actual physical body who just had a child or our home ones that are out of whack or anything else. It's like, we can prove that we work harder than anybody else. But why is the question, like, why do we want to prove this? I recently saw a post on Instagram from my friend Jenelle. Her Instagram handle is, Hey, Jane, Nicole, and you should definitely follow her cause she's amazing. But she is very open about her struggles as a lawyer. And then she recently quit her legal career and is going off to grow her business, which is amazing. But interpose, she was talking about working in these large law firms that put an unbelievable amount of pressure to have constant output at a very high level that is not humanly possible.
When you look at how the human brain works and the amount that we can be productive and the amount that we can go without sleep, all of this stuff has been studied. Right. And so it's absolutely unnatural. And so what do people do when they're under that kind of pressure in her post? She talked about how it became a very normal part of the law firm life for people to be on Adderall, too, take drugs so that they can stay awake until 3:00 AM. What do they need to now I've been out of law for like six years now. And so it's not that I didn't know this stuff or it wasn't there when I was there. It was, but you sort of get out of it and you kind of go back into a little bit more, I feel like of a normal world.
And then it was so jarring to read it again because it enrages me when I read things like this, or think about the people who become depressive or have panic attacks and are literally killing themselves because of this made up idea that if you have to prove somehow that you, the hardest worker that you can do the most, that if you are smarter or I dunno, more capable, or the partners like you, then somehow that makes you better. And so it keeps you on this insane hamster wheel where you sacrifice your health, your mental wellbeing, your family life, anything else that you enjoy any satisfaction. And so you're stuck miserable. And I know these are extreme examples. I'm not saying everybody's on drugs, but I just think the fact that this is happening in a lot of law firms and likely in a lot of other types of professions to the point where people can talk about it.
And it's something that a lot of lawyers will. Again, thank you for talking about that. Like it happens everywhere is insane. I think another way of really looking at this is looking at how unnatural are living and working environments, right? We, as animals are not meant to be indoors under fake lighting in front of screens. Our bodies are just not evolved for that. I remember recently speaking to a neurologist, who's a specialist on sleep. And he was saying that every morning, the first thing you should do is go outside. Even for five minutes, 10 minutes, just stand in the sun, done, stand outside because this son, the rays that come from the sun when they hit the back of your retina, it releases melatonin 16 hours later. And that is used so that you have better sleep. And you're saying, most of us don't do this because the thing that needs to hit you right now, can't go through our windows.
And so, so most of us, because we're sitting in our homes and then we get in our cars and then we drive to our offices. We don't ever get this release of melatonin that we need. And so, so many of us are terrible sleepers. And obviously there's a lot of other things that are added to that now that we have like screens and the blue lights from the screens. But I just think, really get an understanding of how unnatural all of this is. There's a lot of studies now coming out on like the science of grounding. I think it's putting your bare feet on the earth, whether it's grass or sand, or like in the ocean right in dirt. And the idea is that there's a transfer of energy between the electromagnetic field and the earth and the bio-electromagnetic field in humans. And while it's relatively new and it's still being studied, a lot of the studies show that like just 10 minutes, a day, 20 minutes a day of putting your feet on the actual earth and not on an artificial surface, reduces pain, stress, increased circulation, better sleep, right?
There are tons of studies that have shown that just walking in nature is linked with less stress and less depression. There have been these studies on long stretches of time in the woods like they're called forest baths where you, where people that just like, I don't know, I guess, live in the woods for a while. It shows an increase in white blood cell production, which is meant to fight off disease. I mean, everybody has experienced this, right? There's a reason why people have feel a calming sensation when they go to the beach, you just feel better. You feel more relaxed or when you go out into the woods, right, we all have sensed this. You just breathe deeper and easier. And so we don't even need studies to tell us, like, we all know this. And when you then realize like how little you actually ever go out in nature, maybe now with COVID people have been going out more.
But before this, there was some ridiculous study where it was saying like, I don't, I don't remember the actual numbers. So I don't want to say, but it was a mind blowing statistic where it was like the average person doesn't touch a natural service with their feet for like six weeks at a time or something. Because you go from like your home to shoes, to like in your car, you know, you're always asphalt, it's on hardwood, floors, whatever. It's like, we're not ever in grass or dirt or whatever in our bare feet. And again, we have been evolving for, I think, I don't know, 200,000 years, or I don't know exactly what the amount is, but thousands and thousands, tens of thousands of years, and the last couple hundred years, our lifestyle has completely changed. And so obviously sitting under fluorescent lights for eight or 10 or however many hours, you work in your office being in front of screens for an ungodly amount of hours is not good for us.
You might be asking like, well, what do we do? Like, this is the way it is. I have to work. I have to, and I understand that. I'm not saying that you're usually like quit and go live in the woods. So that might be a great decision. I don't know. Maybe you should, but I want us to just be aware of it because yes, we have to live in this world. But one, I think that it's good to know. So you can start incorporating these other things in your life, right? We're all waiting for some day. We're waiting for some day where we can slow down or we can take that nap. Or we can just go for a walk when we can enjoy nature, where we can read a book, like when I'm retired, I want you to stop that stop waiting for that day.
Today is that day, figure out how to incorporate the things that you love in your life with your job right now, learn how to start setting up boundaries and not accepting the status quo and figuring out if the job that you have doesn't allow that, but then maybe it's time for another job. But the bigger reason I want to bring this up is because I want you to stop feeling guilty for wanting something different. I hear this the most. And I had the same thing I felt as though I failed as a woman in the law. Like I wasn't breaking some glass ceiling and I couldn't cut it or whatever it was. I felt an immense amount of shame when I left, especially because I left right after I had a baby. And I thought, maybe they're right. Maybe I couldn't cut it. And they realize how unnatural that was.
Of course I had a child and I wanted to see that child. It's kind of the natural way, the bond between a mother and their child. And it wasn't until I started kind of letting go a lot of this shame of like, it wasn't because I couldn't cut it. It's because I didn't want to cut it in this type of an environment. And so I want you to start figuring out something that works for you. I want you to realize that if it feels like it isn't right. So many of us feel like something is wrong. This is not the way my life should be. My life is not meant to be like this, but then we feel shameful and we feel like I should just be grateful. I have a great job. I make a great living. Why can't I just be happy?
And I want you to think about it in this context, because yes, you need to make money, but how much money have you ever thought about it? I feel like so many people would probably be infinitely, happier making half or 25% less than what they're making, but actually having time to be with their family and friends and to go on vacation and to go on a hike and to be able to take a nap. Now, I'm not saying you have to take a pay cut. And if you, I think there's tons of ways to make money now online. And a lot of what I preach is that it doesn't have to be a trade off. And there's other ways to actually make infinitely more than you think that you can make. But what I want you to understand is that like, I want you to make the conscious decision of what you want for your life. I want you to stop giving into the belief that you don't know what's best for your life or stop accepting. What is just because someone else said, this is the way we're supposed to live. I want you to decide what you want for your life and get to work, making that a reality. And the next time someone tells you that you are crazy for going after your dream or trying to live a life on your terms. I want you to remind them that you're not crazy. You're a goddamn cheetah.
I love you guys. And I will see you in the next episode. Thank you so much for listening. I can't tell you how much it means to me. If you liked the podcast, please rate and review us on iTunes. It'll help other people find the show. If you want to connect or reach out, follow along on Instagram and Facebook at lessons from a quitter and on Twitter at Twitter podcasts, I would love to hear from you guys and I'll see you on the next episode.