Knowledge + Experience = Wisdom helps people realize their unique importance. Using my knowledge of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, my experience with therapy, coaching, somatic healing, and personal growth I create products to help you discover, develop, and express the elements of your identity critical to your health and your contribution to our world. My goal is to research, develop, and disseminate these materials so that every individual can reconnect with their uniqueness, realize their passion and purpose, and live the life they were born to live.
Remember that time when everything seemed perfectly clear?
Yeah, me neither.
But once in awhile things DO seem clear. And it feels good. There’s no doubt (Episode 28) and things just make sense. Though these moments are fleeting, I think we can learn to maximize the amount of clarity we see in our lives.
And by clarity I mean more the ABSENCE of stuff rather than the PRESENCE of something. Clarity, to me, is really just a lack of noice. A lack of disturbance. A lack of . . . . . conflict.
So, yeah, clarity is PEACE.
But it’s also a feeling. An emotional state, if you will, where the calmness takes over and we are filled with confidence and knowing. And how do we know if we really know what we think we know? Clarity.
But in my life, and maybe in yours, and certainly in many peoples’, there is a distinct LACK of clarity. In truth, life is more like a game of telephone where whatever messages we receive from the world are many times adulterated so what we hear is wrong. Even if the game is only played by two people
I seriously wonder how any conversation between any two people ever results in both parties simultaneously being understood and understanding. It’s amazing we can understand each other given our propensity to interpret each other, insert our subjective biases, to be poor communicators, to define words differently, and any other of a multitude of elements that complicate communication among humans.
But, generally, we can actually talk to each other. My use of the term CLARITY is simply to suggest that we could be much better at it. And that’s what I talk about in this video.
Depending on how you define ‘uncomfortable’, 100-200 million people worldwide can’t meet their basic needs. Folks are born into societies and cultures where they are doomed to fail. Millions of people on this planet will live their entire lives worried about dying, finding food, or having a safe place to sleep. These are enormously huge problems that I truly don’t understand. Nor do I understand how complicated the solutions are.
But I do believe one thing: if we wanted to solve these problems, we could. We could at least make them better. And I truly believe that the solutions begin within each one of us.
To solve these problems we need to fix ourselves first. We each need to put on the proverbial oxygen mask so that we can take care of ourselves so that we can take care of each other. And right now there’s a lot missing from that equation.
First, many of us don’t care about ourselves. Some of us are so sad, stressed, malnourished, hungry, or whatever to take the luxury time necessary to change our beliefs, habits, and behaviors. And I’m not judging, that’s understandable.
Second, many of us who DO have the luxury of pondering our existence just don’t think it’s important to do so. Many of us are too wrapped up in our jobs, iPhones, addictions, or whatever.
And last, most of us wouldn’t know what to do if we DID figure out how to change ourselves because the rest of the world is out there running on autopilot. Once we figure things out, we need to share it with our community – and many of those communities just don’t exist any more.
What I’m trying to say is that I truly believe the Are vs Should Problem is the CAUSE OF and SOLUTION TO, all of our problems. That might be a stretch but let’s just go with the idea that this concept might help us solve some of our problems.
See, I think if we can figure out how to reduce our time spend doing things we feel like we SHOULD be doing then we would have more time to ponder who we really ARE. And if I think we can make that shift in how we spend our time, we will find out that we actually crave connections to our brothers and sisters. I think we actually are inspired to do good. I think we do actually want to share resources instead of horde them. I think we do actually want to take care of our planet. I think we do want to spend our lives finding solutions to issues like world hunger instead of becoming investment bankers and stockpiling financial wealth.
But I’m a naive naval gazer. Or I used to be. And now I want to be again.
I want all those things to be true so I’m believing all those things to be true.
And if you follow the assumptions I’ve made thus far:
DNA is the precursor to human magic and MUST be fully expressed.
Expressing our individual uniqueness is our human purpose.
Reducing the things we feel like we SHOULD do frees up time and space for us to do the last thing.
By becoming the people we are destined to be we will realize, as a species, the way things used to be.
Peace and happiness result from more ARE and less SHOULD.
The CHALLENGES we face as humans can be solved.
Then maybe you’re interested in learning more? That’s what I’m here for.
Please take the time and let me know how you feel.
In this second part of the Bully vs your DNA miniseries I describe the DNA part. I will make the argument here, which is a fundamental element of my future work on the Are vs Should Problem, that it is our birthright to express our DNA as fully as possible. I hope you enjoy.
For many years I have heard things like, ‘Follow your passion!’ or, ‘if you do what you love you’ll never work a day in your life!’. And while I want to love these sentiments, I can’t get passed the ‘woo-woo’ or idealistic nature of the message. Can we really just do what we want? Is that somehow the secret to life? Is being happy really a function of having a job you love?
Now, the old Chris was incredibly cynical (see Episode 28: Doubt and Episode 25: I Suck At. . ) but I am trying very hard to be less so. In fact, I’m starting to see my cynicism as an opportunity for growth. And one of the obstacles I am tackling is this idea that following your passion (or following your ARE) is a worthwhile endeavor that isn’t necessarily sprinkled with rainbows OR unicorns.
So I asked the question as to whether there was any evidence that supports the basic human need of ‘being ourselves’ or ‘following our dreams’ or ‘being our Are’. I came up with what I consider to be hard evidence supporting a ‘follow your dream’ approach to life rather than a ‘put your head down and grind it out’ methodology. An Are vs a Should approach, if you will.
See, as an ecologist and evolutionary biologist, I studied a lot about DNA, evolution, natural selection, and the basic machinery available to all animals through time. I believe we understand how these things work inasmuch DNA is a genotypic (i.e., small scale internal biology) expression of sexual reproduction in a species that is expressed phenotypically (i.e., the outside appearance of that animal offspring) AND provides the basic instructions for living out that individuals’ life. So that individuals’ DNA is a result of reproduction, which rearranges the DNA of each parent to form a new ‘set of instructions’ for the individual offspring. THEN, that offspring, with their unique DNA instructions, lives in its’ environment. During the individuals life, it will express the DNA physically, emotionally, sexually, and all the other ways DNA can be expressed as it is translated from a script to a tissue or action or skill.
That’s a lot, and could be a book in itself, but the key here is that the DNA inside our cells is EXPRESSED outside in the world. This is the ARE. When we are in our Are, we are expressing our unique instructions into the world. We are reading the instruction manual the came with us, and only us, and to whatever degree we are then embracing, in the case of the Are, or denying, in the case of the Should, that uniqueness.
In short, I see the complete and total phenotypic expression, the realization, of our unique DNA as a fundamental goal of life. I’m not saying this is a requirement of being human, more like an opportunity. I see this as sort of a challenge that needs to be examined for evidence rather than an edict or, God forbid, rule.
I think it would be totally cool to take a subset of humans and prescribe to them three sets of treatments in an experiment. One group listens to everything they’re told. They embrace a lifestyle of the Should. They follow all the rules their parents, families, and politicians tell them to. They get the right job, the right partner, etc. The second group ‘follows their hearts’. Members in this treatment group ask themselves what they want and feel when making important life decisions, and try to stick to their inner voice when navigating their lives. The last group is the control, and they just sort of do whatever works without thought about Should vs Are. In fact, they should be sequestered from any talk about the Are vs Should problem.
And then we’d check in with these folks at maybe 18, 30, 45, and 65 to see how they feel about their lives and decisions. My hypothesis would be that the Are group is more fulfilled, calmer, less anxious, and more satisfied with their lives. I would also posit that the control and Should groups are not that different from each other as we seem to be on a trajectory where our knee jerk decision-making is more Should than Are nowadays.
Regardless of ever completing said experiment, I think it is entirely worthwhile to consider the amazing history of your unique DNA. Your DNA exists because your ancestors survived all of the natural selection filters to reproduce and create offspring. Those are all huge evolutionary wins. Each of those transactions, and all of the isolated behaviors during those individuals’ lifetimes, multiply to become what is now you. Part of me wonders to what degree we owe it to our ancestors to fully express the DNA they subconsciously worked so hard to guarantee.
To me, the idea that our DNA contains an historic message about how we can live our individual lives is encouraging. I am encouraged to listen more to my Are and try to suppress my Should. The idea that this may be biologically important reduces my fear that listening to my Are is going to cause me discomfort. The DNA is the Are idea gives me courage to resist the Shoulds in my life and more openly express my Are. If these ideas can help others do that then it is a good tool.
In the second installment of this miniseries within the Are vs Should problem, I talk about the Are side of the equation. Whereas the Should part of us is an amalgamation of society’s worst elements, the Are part of us is uniquely US.
I can’t wait for you to see this episode because in it I fully integrate my scientific training with my psychological and spiritual healing journey.
See, for years I wrestled with the idea that we should ‘follow our dreams’ and ‘live our passion’. I got to the point where I found it incredibly irritating to hear these suggestions, because it seemed so impossible to actually do so. I was living in the world of the Should, trying my best to follow all the right steps that would guarantee me happiness.
Well, I followed the right steps and found myself more confused than ever.
So I had to revisit the idea of purpose, and wonder if I had chosen the wrong path.
Using my unique science and therapy Knowledge and Experience, I make the argument that following our purpose isn’t that far-fetched an idea, and that doing so might actually have millions of years of support in being the preferred method to live ones life.
Yes, this week I argue that your purpose is determined by your DNA, and that realizing this not only minimizes the human struggle, it does justice to your ancestors and our evolutionary history.
In this Episode I talked about how important it is for humans to feel safe. We need to feel safe in the same way that we need food, water, and shelter. Feeling unsafe is exhausting and will do whatever it takes to feel safe. Truly, we spend all of our energy trying to escape a feeling of vulnerability. If we cannot reach a state of feeling safe, we will continue to waste our precious energy trying. As a result, many of us go through life exhausted.
In fact, this can be a huge issue if we don’t define safety accurately – or more precisely, if we are too severe in our expectations of safety. We can’t guarantee anything in life, and acquiring 100% safety is impossible. If we are unable to compromise, or to find safety from multiple sources, we are doomed to fail and to be anxious, depressed, and frightened.
This topic of episode plays into Episodes 54 and 55 about the Bully and your DNA, where the ‘Should’ voices in our heads are making it more and more difficult for us to achieve a feeling of safety, or that we are good enough. I hope you enjoy revisiting this Episode, or listing or watching for the first time. And please check out the Are vs Should series beginning with Episode 50.
David McRaney is the host of the podcast “You Are Not So Smart”, the author of a book by the same name, a follow up book called “You Are Now Less Dumb”, and is writing his next book about how humans change their minds. His website https://youarenotsosmart.com is so FULL of content that it would be something you’d want to take to a desert island because you’d have a lifetime’s worth of entertainment to make you curious.
With a background in both journalism and psychology, David THOROUGHLY researches his topics and then interviews the experts on those subjects. He’s a better researcher than most of the academics I used to work with, he understands psychology better than some therapists I’ve known, and he has a knack for funneling complex subjects into everyday language so that anyone can understand and appreciate them.
And what a gift for us. Anyone interested in the human condition, general psychology, self-help, science, you name it – or anyone just curious about living a human life – David has addressed and eloquently summarized for your enjoyment.
I was so lucky to have captured an hour or so of his time and to be able to hear him talk about curiosity in the context of his life experience, knowledge, and wisdom. I’m sure you will find something that makes you curious in this interview because it covers a lot in a fairly short time. I hope you enjoy learning about the man behind the research. David McRaney.