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.
Are you an analytical person? Do you think science is a good way of answering questions? Do you also believe there are things science CAN’T answer?
Do you struggle from a mix of pragmatic and spiritual beliefs? Do you consider yourself to be pretty smart?
Do you have a strong distrust for the status quo? Have you ever felt like a non-conformist, whether by choice or just because?
If you answered any of those questions I think you’ll enjoy this episode and KEW in general.
My goal is to share a pathway toward reducing struggle, suffering, dissatisfaction, and restlessness to improve our lives.
Like any good ‘scientist’, I am stating my assumptions and baseline beliefs prior to establishing a set of techniques to bring more peace, calm, and satisfaction to our lives.
This will serve as a partial foundation to future episodes that will focus on things we can do to improve our time on Earth, make sure our voices are heard, influence each other, and start to solve the bigger problems.
Please follow me here on the blog, subscribe to the podcast, and follow the YouTube channel. There’s a lot coming up you won’t want to miss.
As we figure out exactly what is happening at KEW, which is mostly coming up with workable strategies to help analytical, empathic, and intelligent folks live calmer and more relaxed lives, it’s necessary to state our assumptions and identifying elements.
In any good scientific endeavor (and this ISN’T science, but I’m trying to take a standardized and similar APPROACH) it’s nice to state your assumptions up front. It tells the reader/listener/viewer/colleague where your head was when you began.
Usually assumptions are peer-reviewed, or at least things you’ve discussed with other people so you know they aren’t ridiculous – and that most people will not have trouble accepting them so they can move forward with the rest of your material.
For example, if you were trying to illustrate that COVID is a conspiracy, and you stated the assumption up front that ‘all liberals are stupid’, that would not be sound. Half your audience would not believe you, and part of the other half would be suspicious. Sure, some folks would be all in, but you get the point.
In this Episode I’ll lay out as much as I can about things I believe to be true and necessary before we move forward to the ‘how-to’ Episodes related to the Are vs Should Problem.
Thinking about the person you ARE and the person you feel like you SHOULD BE can be confusing. I think we mostly know when we are doing something that fits with our ‘core values’, but sometimes we don’t.
Have you ever wondered what your motivation is in a certain situation?
For example, you find a $50 bill on the ground. Do you immediately stuff it in your pocket? Do you look around to see who might have dropped it? Or do you pause for a moment and wonder what to do?
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.
As we pursue the “Are vs. Should Problem” and examine our personal inventory, I want to describe two main ways we can understand our selves and the realities we live in.
First, there is the measurable world. The ‘Hard’ world where science reigns supreme. Things are measurable, quantifiable, and therefore fit into the well oiled scientific machinery. Problems stemming from economics, medicine, and food supply are easily boiled down into testable hypotheses and theories used to derive definitive results. Other minds have described hard problems as being those containing subjects comprised of matter (as opposed to ideas, for example).
Is the economy going to tank? Well, the data on this and that support a trajectory that suggests no.
Will this medicine prevent a global pandemic? It is 98% effective at preventing disease and 90% of the population is vaccinated so yes!
Is this years corn crop enough to supply North America for the winter? Yes, ten billion metric tonnes of corn will feed 200 million people (I completely made up those numbers, but you get the point)
So science is pretty darned good at answering certain questions. About things that we can OBSERVE and MEASURE.
EVERYTHING ELSE is a ‘SOFT’ problem defined by a soft reality. EVERYTHING ELSE.
My point in this episode is that VERY FEW items in our personal inventory are going to fit into the HARD reality. And, unfortunately, scientists (and other professionals who get paid to think) spend most of their time on HARD problems because, well, because they have to. The hard tools don’t work as well on the soft realities. BUT THEY CAN WORK!
And so, as part of our assessment of our personal inventory, as part of the process of weeding out the needs, the wants, and the don’t-really-need-so-muches, we have to develop a new skill set.
One way to understand the soft problems, is simply to borrow the scientific tools used for hard problems. Einstein, and others, called these ‘thought experiments’. There’s no reason we can’t follow the scientific approach to ask questions about soft realities, we just can’t draw the same conclusions because not everything can be boiled down to numbers.
And that may be another way to understand the difference. Hard reality problems can be boiled down to a set of numbers that represent the reality: The average person has 10,000 thoughts a day. Whereas the soft reality problem can’t be measured like that: The average person worries about death and being unloved as they age. Worry, fear, sadness. How do you measure those things? And, if you could, why would you? What we want and need with soft problems is simply a better understanding of the realities across people. Science isn’t a good tool to go about understanding this. Our minds, however, are excellent tools to solve these problems – we just have to normalize this however we can once we find a system that works.
And, really, we probably have lots of Unscientific approaches that work – we just treat them differently from science because, well, they aren’t science. Next week I’ll go in to a bit more detail with examples.
In this episode I moved closer to figuring out the basic set of issues one needs to address when seeking enlightenment, personal growth, self help, or similar human growth efforts. Along with identifying values, identifying beliefs (limiting and otherwise), and getting to know ‘who you are’ I think understand HOW we believe is important.
In recording this episode, I realized that faith and trust are critical terms to understand. Like DOUBT, we define faith and trust along continua of intensity. In the end, I think trust is something we have for individual people, and faith is something we have in concepts or systems. But each of these terms can vary depending on what the faith or trust is IN.
For example, we have FAITH that we will arrive safely at our destination whenever we drive our cars. We TRUST in other drivers that they won’t cross over the centerline and hit us head on. We have a HUGE degree of FAITH in this whole driving SYSTEM to the point where we are more afraid of being eaten by a shark at the beach or being bitten by a snake than we are of being in a car accident – and the statistics and probability suggest quite the opposite.
And what’s more revealing is how much FAITH and TRUST we put in to things without realizing we’re doing it. For example, SCIENCE, which we often consider to be the antithesis of faith or trust, necessarily contains a HUGE element of FAITH in the acceptance of and belief in scientific results. Another example of the strangeness of these concepts is how we conclude that because the sun has risen every day for millennia that it will 100% rise again tomorrow.
Anyway, I hope you enjoy this discussion about how we place our personal power into people, ideas, concepts, and systems and how this relates to what we VALUE and BELIEVE.
Here’s the link to the original post with links to podcast audio and YouTube video. Please subscribe to the Knowledge + Experience = Wisdom podcast on your favorite app or my YouTube channel (or both!).
Science is important to me. Though I am a trained scientist and truly embrace the scientific method as a great way to go about answering questions, I think we treat science, the method, and scientISTS as if they were something special. We/They’re not. It is very important to me to help people understand what science IS and, more importantly, what it IS NOT.
The first point I try to make in this video, and whenever talking about science is that IT’S JUST A METHOD. What we call science is the set of instructions about how to go about asking questions (the scientific method), and draw inferential conclusions as a result. Ideally, but very rarely, these results are then transformed FROM scientific methodology, complicated statistics, and field specific jargon, to meaningful statements most people can understand. But this last step almost never happens, and when it does, it isn’t interpreted by scientists, but by laypersons.
Here’s the rub: The RESULTS of SCIENCE, produced following and according to the SCIENTIFIC METHOD, have to be filtered through a DISCOURSE comprised of US HUMANS. Science is nothing special except having some rules to follow in order to produce a desired result. Think about that statement. It’s not that much different from religion or governmental laws. These things are methods or systems of organizing or going about completing a task(s) in ways that make sense to a large number of people or constituents. In other words, these methods are vetted up front by groups of people, and their results are filtered through a discourse comprised of thoughts, interpretations, and opinions of those same people.
I will develop and explain this concept in much more detail beginning with Episode 50 and my efforts to develop concise products about this and related subjects. But here I introduce the idea that science is just a method used to answer questions, that we, as people interested in these questions, are not doing our job, and the scientist have become so separated from the public discourse that the method itself is incomplete, and becoming ineffective.