"Mr. Gill owes about $45,000 in federal student loans, plus another $40,000 to his parents. That investment in his future has led to a secure job with decent pay and good benefits. But it has left him with tremendous financial constraints, as he faces chipping away at the debt for years on end.
The Federal Reserve Bank of New York, in a new study, found that 30-year-olds with student loans were now less likely to have debts like home mortgages than 30-year-olds without student loans — even though most of those with student loans are better educated and can expect to earn more money over their lifetimes. The same pattern holds true for 25-year-olds and car loans.
This is surely a different start than any modern generation has had before? Can you buy a car? Can you own a home? Can you afford to have children? What does it mean for how you live your life?
Is this why so many young don't and have to find another way?
Is this why car sharing has to be a new reality? Is this why renting will become so important? Is this why owning stuff will have to be less important? Is this why in the UK so many 30 plus year olds still live with their parents?
With a 37% unemployment rate for this generation in the US, what does 10 + years of no job also add to this equation?
Isn't our economy and our culture is centred on owning stuff. It has been since the dawn of agriculture. But the Millennials cannot own stuff. A whole generation will grow into middle age with few assets that they "Own".
A marker of this is car sales. Cars sales have dropped in Europe for 18 months in a row. Car sales are down 10% in Europe and 17% in Germany! Demand also sank in other major continental markets, falling 14.5% in France, 13.9% in Spain and 4.9% in Italy. The UK was the only major bright spot for car makers, with sales up 5.9%.
What does this mean to an economy that is based on selling more and more stuff?
What will this mean to marriage and family? At the moment single people and single parents are at an all time high. Can a person survive as a single in this kind of world where sharing may be the only way to have what we need?
Now combine this with the Boomers who do not have enough assets and savings to make it thorugh old age and we have a cultural revolution. The Millenials and the Boomers need each other to make it through having kids and getting through old age.
We cannot know how this will be in any detail. But this is will be very different from any generation for 10,000 years.
It could mean the re-emergence of a society that is based on sharing and on the tribe. We used to live like this. Huans lived like this for all time - Except the last 10,000 years after the dawn of agriculture.
My book - You Don't Need a Job - offers some insight into what is going on.
This is why I wrote my book - You Don't Need a Job - there is no point is just hoping for the best or complaining. We have to rethink our world.
More here on employment around the world.
Pew just show that youth unemployment is 37% in the US. "37% of 18- to 29-year-olds are unemployed or out of the workforce, the highest share among this age group in more than three decades. Research shows that young people who graduate from college in a bad economy typically suffer long-term consequences — with effects on their careers and earnings that linger as long as 15 years.1(See chapter 5 in the full report)"
Unemployed. Cannot find work and, if you do, you cannot stand it?
Is this you? If so you will Love this post from Miles Hingston - snip here:
"The most creative visionaries often cannot function adequately in modern society. This makes it extremely hard to avoid unemployment, let alone to feed and shelter oneself. But admit that you feel this way, and you’re instantly labeled lazy, arrogant, elitist, etc. We’re evidently not ready to admit on a mass scale that the current definition of a “normal” human being is not only imaginary, but impossible.
The fact that it seems nearly impossible to build a stable, secure, happy life in the segment formerly known as the “middle class” by doing worthwhile work that makes a real human difference is the exception that proves the rule, illuminating just how deeply, and perhaps fatally broken our economy is. — Umair Haque"
We must move beyond the vacuous cycle of being an employee and being a consumer, living to work, working to earn, and earning to consume.
We need a third way that offers people work, resilience and authentic meaning. In my view, that cannot come from the Central State or the global corporate workplace: it can only come from a relocalized economy in revitalized communities. — Charles Hugh Smith
About 45 percent of the nation’s unemployed are between the ages of 18 and 34, according to a recent report from Demos, a public policy organization. In addition to the more than 5.6 million young people who don’t have a job, there are about 4.7 million young employees who are underemployed or working in jobs for which they’re overqualified, the report found.
Unfortunately, it seems we have a long way to go before youth employment reaches levels anyone would dare describe as normal. Demos found that U.S. employers need to add some 4.1 million more jobs before young adults will be employed at levels similar to those before the recession. (link)
And if you have a job, what kind of job? (Link)
Some 28% of workers are expected to hold low-wage jobs in 2020, roughly the same percentage as in 2010, according to a study by the Economic Policy Institute.
The study defines low-paying jobs as those with wages at or below what full-time workers must earn to live above the poverty level for a family of four. In 2011, this was $23,005, or $11.06 an hour.
Why is this going on? I think I know the answer but it's not all bad
What can we do? I think I can help you here too. Here are 4 short books that tell you more.
I start with the “Job”. “You Don’t Need a Job” – Link to Store – If we can see the Job for what it is, a construct of a paradigm, then we are no longer trapped. For how we make our living is the starting place for the journey.
The second book in the series is called “You Don’t Need a Banker” - Link to Store - More than any institution today, Banks seem supreme and essential. But I will show you that to get the credit you need to make a living and to have a good life does not mean that you have to depend on banks as we know them today.
You Don’t Need Medicine to Get Healthy - What if our health did not depend on doctors and drugs? This is not a fantasy. This book will explore the new science of Ancestral Health and show you how to take charge of your own health. the link is here.
Lessons from Vimy Today nearly all organizational leaders have grown up in world where social networks did not exist. They and their organizations are designed around command and control. They are told that they must use social media and networks. But all they know is how to control. They do not know what to do to change their culture and organization so that they can take advantage of the power of the new.
Changing the culture is key - this book is all about how to do this. The link to the store is here
Very soon very few of us will have a job. My book - You Don't Need a Job - explains why and what to do about this. Some have thought that I have been an alarmist. If you think that you are safe and don't have to get ready for a new world, have aread of this article in today's TechCrunch.
Here is the best descriprion I have yet seen by Jon Evans on the forces in play:
"Let’s take a specific example: Google’s self-driving cars. What happens when they finally make their way onto American highways en masse? (Which, to be fair, Kurzweilpredicted for 2019 back in 1999.) What happens if and when it turns out that they’re much safer than human drivers? Insurance costs will make human driving very expensive, and fewer vehicles will be sold–partly because cars will last longer, partly because fractional ownership of a pool of self-driving vehicles will make more economic sense than having your own.
Self-driving cars are a striking example of software eating jobs, but far from the only one. Almost every job, in every field, probably including yours, will increasingly be threatened by obsolescence and/or automation. That’s a simple and inevitable corollary of software eating the world and the concomitant increasing rate of change. As that rate accelerates, technology will soon start destroying jobs faster than it creates them…if it isn’t already.
Think it can’t happen to you? Already “many of the jobs being displaced are high-skill and high-wage; the downside of technology isn’t limited to menial workers,” warns Krugman. The Economistconcurs. Krugman goes on to add: “Still, can innovation and progress really hurt large numbers of workers, maybe even workers in general? I often encounter assertions that this can’t happen. But the truth is that it can, and serious economists have been aware of this possibility for almost two centuries.”
Mead argues in The Blue Elites Are Wrong that the information revolution is like the industrial revolution, and will lead to “empowering ordinary people.” Which, again, is true–eventually. Whether you believe that new and better jobs will be created, or whether you’re willing to think a little biggerand imagine that we’ve finally begun the slow evolution towards a post-scarcity society built around reputation economies rather than “jobs” as we understand them, almost all of these new disruptive technologies will ultimately be good for everyone. I’m no Luddite.
But in the interim, until we retool our societies around these new technologies and new economic realities, the next few decades will be extremely difficult for many people who have grown accustomed to thinking of themselves as middle class. Not everyone can become a computer programmer, genetic counselor, or startup CEO; a whole lot of Mead’s “ordinary people” will be stripped of their jobs and left behind in debt, poverty, and despair. No wonder the rich and skilled are doing their level best to entrench themselves at the top of our soon-to-be-rapidly-narrowing economic pyramid.
I’ve tried to make a point here by citing sources across America’s traditional and tedious left/right divide. This is bigger than that. (To the rest of the world: I’m sorry for fixating on the USA here. I’m not even American myself. But it’s almost certainly going to happen here first. Watch carefully.) If left-versus-right is the only lens through which you can view the world, then you really need to start thinking outside the box in which you have jailed yourself. Because everything will soon be changing, faster and faster, and I assure you that the future will be weirder than we imagine now–and you’ll need a flexible mind if you hope to prosper and thrive."
So what to do? Please give my short book a whirl - I have done my best to offer you up a hopeful and a pragmatic alternative.
I was talking to an American friend about his health insurance. It now costs $1,700 a month. This includea a $7,000 deductible. This is up from $1,000 5 years ago. This is a house payment. I asked him when he thought it would reach $2,500 a month and what would happen then. "At this rate in maybe 2 years and I just won't be able to afford it"
If you think this is bad, and you live in Canada, don't be too smug. In less than 3 years Canada's smallest province, PEI will have total health care costs that exceed its tax receipts. In 7 years time, health care costs will be double the tax receipts. This trend will apply to all provinces in time.
By 2030, Alzheimers alone will cost Medicare the entire budget. The Health Care system that we know - get a pill for each ill when you are ill is going to crash and burn. It has already in places like Greece that does not have the funds to pay anymore. Source NPR
"There have been changes in the health sector across Europe. For example, raising copayments for medicine and doctors' visits are now more common. But the cutbacks in Greece have been the most drastic so far.
The effects of these cuts are obvious at the Hellenikon Metropolitan Social Clinic outside Athens, located near an abandoned U.S. Air Force base.
Olga Baklatzi is one of the many volunteers at what they call the underground clinic, created 13 months ago to serve those no longer covered by health insurance. She describes the kind of people who come to the clinic.
"Middle-class, simple people, working people, they just lost their jobs, builders, people who worked in shops, they are well-dressed, not scruffy or dirty," Baklatzi says.
Medicines are donated by families of patients who don't need them any more and by pharmacies.
In just over a year, 4,500 patients have visited this clinic, which provides everything from dental to cancer care.
A well-dressed, 56-year-old woman waits in line at the reception desk. She prefers not to give her name for privacy reasons. She has come for free medicines for her breast cancer. She hasn't had health coverage since 2008, when her family recording company went bankrupt.
She is angry. Her three grown children have university degrees, speak several languages and have all lost their jobs. She holds back tears. Her bitterness, she says, is the cause of her cancer.
One of the founders of the underground clinic is cardiologist Giorgios Vichas. With three years of austerity cuts, he says, life expectancy is dropping, while infant mortality has grown by 4 percent — shocking statistics in peacetime in the Western world.
The clinic, Vichas says, offers more than doctors and medicines.
"We also give them back the hope and dignity that has been taken away from them," he says."
I don't think we can count on this system anymore. And with all this cost, what do we all get? Are we as a society getting more healthy or less? You know the answer.
So the nest question is, What are you going to do?
One of the things you can do is to read my new book - out in March - You Don't Need Medicine to Get Healthy. Should be ready in March.
There is a real reveolution in health taking place where how to live to be healthy and to get healthy is becoming more and more clear. This book will offer you a guide to diet, your body and your social world. It is both personal and also rooted in the new science.
Posted at 11:33 AM in 55 Theses, Activity, Aging, Books, Diabetes Type 2, diet, Environment, Evolutionary Fit, Food, Food and Drink, Food Systems, Health, Hope, Human Workplace, Ideas - philosophy, jobs, Mindset, Missing Human Manual, NPR, Organizations and Culture, Paleo, Paradigms, Parenting, PEI, Resilient Communities | Permalink | Comments (5)
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Hugh McLeod says it all in one panel
I explain it here in You Don't Need a Job
Why they became so important - why they are now going away - why this is good for you - what is coming and how you can do well.
Hugh sums up the risks and the choices in a recent post of his:
"What is heartbreaking about his story is it reminds me of something that has always haunted and terrified me since I first entered the working world: the idea of getting to the inevitable end of your life, and in spite of all that talent, passion and energy spent working insane hours for decades, you don’t have a meaningful and lasting body of work to be proud of, money or no money.
And that can easily happen, when, early on in the game, you decide to take the easy money. When you let your path be defined by short cuts, short-term needs and the outward assurances of social status.
When you do things just because they look good on paper, just because they impress your peers…
This is not a rant against the advertising business; it’s a great choice for some folk, I personally got a TERRIFIC education out of it.
No, this is a rant against somethiong MUCH larger, i.e. a rant against not “following your bliss”, to quote Joseph Campbell.
Luckily, there’s no law saying that you have to make the aforementioned short-cut decision. There’s another decision you can make.
The question is, will you make that decision? Will you actually follow your bliss?
Only you can answer that."
Here is the last and 10th reason why to not place your hopes in a Job - From Techcrunch James Atucher
"10) Abundance will never come from your job. Only stepping out of the prison imposed on you from your factory will allow you to achieve abundance. You can’t see it now. It’s hard to see the gardens when you are locked in jail. Abundance only comes when you are moving along your themes. When you are truly enhancing the lives of the people around you.
When every day you wake up with that motive of enhancement. Enhance your family, your friends, your colleagues, your clients, potential customers, readers, people who you don’t even know yet but you would like to know. Become a beacon of enhancement and then, when the night is gray, all of the boats will move towards you, bringing their bountiful riches.
Don’t believe me. Stay with a boss that hates you. A job that is keeping you locked on a chain around your neck, tantalizing you with incremental increases in pay and job title. Stay in a culture that is quietly replacing the entire middle class. This is not anyone’s fault. These are the tectonic plates of economics destroying an entire suburban culture that has lasted for almost 100 years.
Until you choose yourself for success, and all that choice entails, you will be locked into the prison. You will stare into your lover’s eyes looking for a sign that he or she loves you back. But slowly the lights will fade, the warmth of another body will grow cold, and you will go to sleep dreamless in the dark once again."
Here are more of my working notes for part of my new book: You Don't Need Medicine - To Be Healthy.
The central thesis of the book is that our health is directly connected to the environment. That is why you and I can make the changes that we need to be healthy.
This post is a sketch for the chapter in the book that will be about our social world. My notes on the choices that we face for Diet are here. My notes for the ideal environment that we need for our Body are here. My notes on all the science that supports this thesis are here.
The Mind Our Blessing and Our Curse
We have seen that our our stomach and our body need a certain environment to keep us healthy. Now we come to the most mysterious part of the chronic health equation. Our minds are the third element. Oue mind too reacts to its environment and then drives good or poor health.
For instance, if you work at the bottom rung of a bureaucracy, you are four times more likely to die of heart disease than the leader. If you retire at 65 as a man from a bureaucracy where all your status came from your job, you will be lucky to live another 5 years. If you live in a country with a wide range between the rich and the poor and you are poor, you will have much worse health than a person in another country living the same life as you but with a smaller income gap.
Status and control are the core issues for how our social environment affects human health. How this works is all about our being first of all a primate and secondly about being human and so being self aware.
All animals have a stress response. If you are a Zebra and you are being chased by a lion, you would go into full stress response. Every part of your body will shut down to ensure that you can run for your life. Your body is flooded with cortisol, the stress hormone, to do this. It's a huge bet: but this full on focus on running only lasts only for minutes. You are then dead or safe. If the lions are not hunting, you are calm. As a zebra, the stress response is only a good thing.
But for primates, like baboons or humans, it's different. All primates rely on the troop, band or tribe. There can be no life alone outside it. So, while we still go into high stress when we face a leopard, we also worry all the time about our social status. When there are changes at the top, everyone gets anxious because of the social uncertainty. Being low in status means that all those above us can take out their problems on us. Lower ranked members can stress all the time because they have no control over how they will be treated.
To combat the effect of the social stress, primates groom each other. Even the lowest member of the troop is included. No one is isolated. All primates need to groom to stay healthy. We have to live in a close knit small community where we have our place. We all need to be touched or have relationships that offer the equivalent. This is why prolonged isolation can be so terrible for humans or why babies, that are not touched a lot, develop so poorly or even die. This is why not having caring people in our lives is so damaging.
Because humans are conscious we have yet another layer of stress. We can imagine time and intangible events. So we can stress about global warming, world peace or gun control. We can worry about things that happened in the past. We can worry about the weather or a dress. We can worry about our old age. We can worry about things that we can have absolutely no control over.
Our human mind takes the primate problem of stress to a new level. For we have made culture itself our main evolutionary strategy. Culture, or the dominant social environment, is how weak hairless apes have adapted to the world and have become the dominant species.
The human mind literally creates the world we live in.
It takes in all the data and creates neural patterns in the brain that define us. Repeated thoughts and repeated reactions literally carve pathways in our neurons. For instance, if you were blindfolded at birth for 3 years and then the blindfold was taken off, you would be blind and never be able to see. What will have happened is that the pathway in the brain for sight would never have developed. Once it missed the window, the pathway will be lost forever.
This biomechanical brain body function applies to all animals. What is different for us is that the same neuron wiring process is also set up, or changed, by how we think and by how our emotions work. How we react to our social environment creates our ego and constructs the reality that each of us live in.
So is there an ideal social environment for humans to develop to their full and healthy potential? Yes, of course there is and it is the same environment that has set us up to thrive when we eat and when we use our bodies.
Our Ideal Social Environment
We lived for millions of years as wandering Hunter Gatherers. Just as this experience has shaped our diet and our body, it has also shaped our social needs.
We are designed to live in a very small, close knit and interdependent unit of people. This unit is both where we have our home and also where we work. Our children are raised collectively in it. We grow old in it. It looks after us and we look after it. We rise or fall according to how this unit fares. We are both the unit and also individuals.
Being hunter gatherers, we have very few possessions and so cannot know the idea of property. We cannot imagine owning any thing or anyone. We don't own another adult and we don't own a child. We don't have a plan for another person. Not being owned by anyone, we have a low need to please anyone. Controlling others or being controlled by others is inconceivable. We are part of the group but we are only reponsible for ourselves.
We live in very small communities. Most human tribes were less than 35. Our social complexity is low. We spend our entire lives living, loving and working in this small social world. We know where we stand and we know where others stand. Relationships are predictable. Our place in this community is directly related to what we do and to what kind of person we are.
Our status is controlled by our own actions.
At the core of this social environment is the socio economic culture. How we get our food drives every part of it. Not only does Hunter Gathering mean that we are mobile and cannot own property, it is also a very efficient way of getting the food that we need. It only consumes about 30% of the day on average. It gives us the time to have the right relationships.
Time is in abundance. Time is key for the development of the children. Time is key for all development.With time, there is time to develop naturally. Nothing is forced.
The children are also not tied to only two or one adults but to all the adults in the tribe. Girls, teens and grannies all look after the needs of all the young. Young girls and boys learn directly from all the adults about how to behave and how to work. Mothers are supported by the whole tribe. Men transform boys into men and model what it is to be a man. The elders hold the wisdom and the stories.
All have the time.
At the centre of this unit is each individual. As an infant and as a child, this individual has been raised in the ideal social setting. It does indeed take a village to raise a child. The child has constraints but also great freedom to explore the world and herself. Nature plays a large role in this. There is time to connect to nature and to ourselves as well. We draw comfort from nature. All make their living from nature. People understand it at a level of detail that we cannot know now. Nature has its own time and shows us again that development cannot be forced. All things grow on their own timetable.
Nature sets the course.
As we observe nature's rythms, we also start to see that our death is not a final stop but a step in the great cycle of nature. Humans are the only species that we know of that knows of its own death. But with our place in nature secure by living in it, this fear is lessened. We can grow old gracefully. We can embrace our time here and our time to leave. We need no faith to know that all is a cycle. Death in this context is only part of a continuum.
This then is the social environment that humans have been shaped by millions of years to do best in.
This is a social design that has high meaning, high control, has high intimacy, high trust and lots of time. All of this in the setting of nature herself, our guide and home.
But we don't live like this any more.
Our Current Social Environment and Why it Makes us Ill
50% of us now live in large cities surrounded by millions of strangers. We have to ignore other people to cope with this. People have to ignore us. We have to live in isolation. There can be very little intimacy or trust in such a setting.
Many of us also work in large bureaucracies where all is utility. We are told to leave our true selves at home. We work with strangers. We compete with our colleagues. There is no close and interdependent community. We work not for the group and so ourselves but for THE MAN. We are all expendable. We do not share in the rewards or in the plans. The modern workplace has no meaning, no intimacy. It has no trust. It is low control by design.
The home and the workplace are also physically separate. So the demands of working and raising children are in perpetual conflict. Work and Life cannot be resolved.
At the core of all of this is the socio economic system of consumerism. This has made the accumulation of things and of money the purpose of life. We hope that a thing will add to our status. But we find that things offer only fleeting glimpses of status. For, our status in this system is granted to us by others. We are born into it or not. We go to the right school or not. We get the right job or not. We lose our job or not. Because status is granted by forces outside of our control, we worry about it all the time. Our status is never secure. Money as a purpose is not enough.
Obsessed with owning things, we seek to own people as well. We own our spouses and our children. We own our employees. We see them as reflections of ourseves just as we see our cars. We have plans for them. We need to control them. We seek control where it cannot be found. And they all have plans for us too. We all judge and blame the other for our own feelings and lives.
We are helpless and so have little control in the essential parts of our lives. For most of us have no real skills at all. Many of us can do almost nothing in a practical sense to look after ourselves. Few can cook anymore. Few can make or fix anything. The mass production world has deskilled us.
We depend on uncontollable forces to feed us, pay us, heat us and give us shelter. If anything was to go wrong with these external forces, we would not know what to do. At a deep level we know this and this sense of having no control eats away at us.
In this context, we struggle to raise our young.
The demands of the modern culture and the modern workplace are destroying the viability of the family as the place where we raise the next generation. The hours at work take time and energy away from our core relationships. Many now look at their spouse in the same utilitarian perspective that they have learned at work. Consequently, many of us live alone or raise children alone. Many parents are isolated and live lives of desparation. Mothers and children no longer have the tribal support they need. Our children can so easly get lost.
As do we all when we get old. The elderly are lost too. Old age is to be feared for it is to be alone and worthless. The old have no place anymore but live too long.
Most people are cut off from the natural world. Who ses the night sky anymore? Who feels the seasons. We have no guide for life and how to live it. So, death becomes a terrible thing. Many of us try and distract ourselves from it. We try and look young. We behave badly. We deny death.
By accident, we have created a culture that is utterly alien to human life. A huge gap has opened up between the social environment that we were designed to thrive in and the one that we live in today. No wonder there is an epidemic of chronic disease.
So the question of our time is "Can we get back to a social world that is good for us?"
I think we can. For the issue is not to change the world, which is impossible, but to change ourselves.
How to recreate the social world that we need
We can find a real tribe with all the meaning and support and status that comes from that. We can live in a small place. We can use the hunter gatherer economy and lifestyle and so find time and stop obessing about things. We can unattach from the need to control and to be controlled. We can find nature. We can find ourselves. We can become free from fear of death.
It is a matter of choices. Here is my story as a guide for how I was able to return to a life that is very close to that of a Hunter Gatherer.
Lose the Job, Find Yourself and Find a Tribe
In my own case the key to gaining control of my life was to give up on having a job. In my book, You Don't Need a Job, I do my best to show you why you will be better off financially outside the job world. In this book, I will show you why you will be healthier without one.
I did not start with a plan. My new life began with my being miserable and not knowing why. This was of course a very stressful and unhealthy time for me.
Like many people, I went into a career because it pleased my parents and I could made a lot of money. I was good at this chosen profession of Banking. But as the years went on, this work satisfied me less and less. It seemed that I was playing monopoly. I was also trapped by the money. Only crime paid as well!
My devotion to this career also affected my family. I had been proud that I was a good provider, but my wife and kids wanted something else. They wanted me. They wanted my full attention. And this I could not give them. For this kind of a job took all of me and maybe more. I became a ghost of a man. Unable to give my attention to those that I loved.
This was a miserable time for me. All I knew was that my life did not work anymore. I had no idea what to do. But then, by coincidence, I had dinner with an old friend who knew exactly what was going on. She told me that I had to get out of this life and that the clue to my future would be in finding out what truly made me happy and making this my goal. She told me to keep my eyes out for the right people who could help me.
So, with no more plan than that, I left the restaurant even more scared than when I had arrived.
Not a week had gone by when the Chairman called me told that he was tied up and could not see his next visitor, Dr Fraser Mustard, who was a bit weird. As the weirdest man in the bank, Al thought I might fill in well for him and could I come over. It was one of those moments. I found the man. In finding him, I was also able to remember what I really liked to do.
I loved working on big academic problems. I loved the research. I loved how patterns would emerge. I loved to wake up in the middle of the night and find that my sleeping mind had solved a problem. I loved the interplay with others who shared a common problem. I loved the hours and how I used lots of free time to cook a problem. I loved the setting and the feeling that it was all up to me. For at Oxford, you are treated as an adult and left to your own devices. No one tells you what to do or how to think. You are expected to do the work yourself.
I wanted to take the way I worked at Oxford and make this work my life.
Fraser lived for big problems. At the time he was working on the Determinants of Health, and on the power of the Early Years to determine our development. I was responsible at the time for the health of the bank's employees and their families. He exposed me to ideas and people that I could never have found on my own. I have been working on these ideas ever since.
I became intoxicated. It was like having an affair. I would spend hours every week outside of the bank working on his problems. I had never worked like this before. I had always been in the job hierarchy. In the job world, each party reacts to power. In a network each person reacts to the humanity of the other person! This was utterly new to me. This new way of working for peers and for the sake of finding answers to shared problems helped me lose a lot of my corporate armour.
Fraser himself was the epicentre of a great network of people working on big problems. Getting his trust and respect was very hard. But if you had his trust, then you too could join. This is what happened to me. When the day came when the Bank and I parted company at last, I had a network and was able to reject the job as an alternative.
I tell you this story because while it is mine, it has an aspect that I think is universal.
In the myth of the Hero's Journey, the starting point is disease. 'Dis ease'. There is a time of pain and problems that seem insoluable for they have no known cause. The job brings this today. You might not have one and think that you need one. You might have one and think it is wrong for you. You may have one and fear that you might lose it. Your job may conflict with your family. It may conflict with the real you. There may be people at your job who make you feel ill. Your job may have mad rules. You job may be about nothing that you value. Jobs steal time from us.
The job world is the source of most of the stress and so disease that we endure today. The job splits us into conflicted parts. When we don't have the job, we start to come together again and become the person we are inside.
Get Time Back
Once you start to earn a living for yourself, you will discover that you have control over the most precious resource that you have. Time is all there is. Once I was making a living, I had control over my time. This is where the major rewards of being a modern HG shine through. For the job robs us of control of time. With no control over time, we are always in conflict and so stressed.
But it took me time to get used to having control over my time. At first I felt guilty. How could I go shopping midweek? How could I take a long lunch? How could I go away? I had been wired to be busy and to be at the beck and call of others. I think this all starts with the school bell. Like Pavlov's dogs, we are obessed with other people's schedules for us. It took me several years to accept that I was now in charge of my schedule.
There are other important changes to time that take place as a result of working in a tribal setting.
I found that my pace of work on my own, without all the distractions of all the meetings and all the bullshit at work, was much faster than my clients expected. They were all so busy doing nothing substantive that they could not keep up with me. I found that I had the time to allow my work to evolve. I no longer had to push mechanically at work. I could allow it to happen. I can have an off day and not be able to work and be relaxed that the job would still get done. I can get stuck, as I have with this book at times, and take a week off, and find that when I return the problem has been solved. I can sleep on a problem. I can play with data. I can be a hacker in my work. I can fit my work to nature's schedule and not to the clock.
Imagine how much less stressful this is? Imagine how much more satisfying this approach to work is?
Because I am so much more productive than those who have jobs, I also have lots of time in my life for the unexpected. The car can break down. I can react to a call to help with my grand children. There is no conflict. I can fit it all in.
There is time to do great work and also be fully present with my family. What more can you ask? Most of the conflict and stress that was central to the job and family has gone away.
With time, you can invest in relationships
In my job life, I issued orders or took them. There was not much time for anything else. The task ruled. Working like this all day for decades, affected how I was outside of work too.
I lost the ability to listen to other people and to feel empathy. As I lost this for others, I lost it for myself too.
Primates have to groom and to be groomed to keep healthy. We have to invest time in our important relationships. As humans, we groom by hearing the other out. We groom by listening and by being heard. As a man and as a husband, it took me years to work out that my wife did not want my advice. She wanted to be heard. It took me longer to know that I too needed to be heard. There is nothing more comforting than to be heard. There is no greatere social gift than to listen.
But in the job world there is no time for this. No time at work or at home. So with no one to hear us, our stress builds and builds. Working for myself changed this. I now had time. I could be open enough to hear. I had the time to pay attention to a few friends.
Finding your voice
In the job world, I spoke in that "Corporate" voice. I spoke memos and jargon. I was clipped. I seemed sure. I was always on the parade ground. But that is not a voice that friends or lovers use. They use an intimate voice. They speak from the heart. I had lost all of that. I had no clue how to speak from the heart.
It was blogging that helped me find my authentic voice again. It was blogging that helped my find others whose voice attracted me. At first I wrote more memos. But over time, I started to be personal. The more personal I was, the more I connected with a few people who I had grown to like for the same reasons.
Now 11 years later, I cannot speak corporate anymore. Not just in my writing but in my actual voice. I have retrained my voice to be me and not some role I played in my job. I could never have done this while still in a job. For what employer can allow an employee to speak her mind or worse, her heart?
In the job world we speak from a limited script. We lose our power because we don't use our own voice. We instead try and be clever rather than be true. Listen to Martin Luther King vesus any politician you can think of and you can hear the difference in a second.
When we speak our truth, we attract people to ourselves legitimately. We don't have to be in conflict with who we are. There is no stress and there is much power. We can be ourselves. We can strengthen our relationships with our tribe and so get more of what we need from our tribe.
Live in a small community, lose your armour and slow down the pace of time
As I became better at earning a living as a result of knowing my passion, being more human and having a good virtual tribe, I took the next step. I left the big city and moved to a tiny physical community.
With the web, with a passion, real skills and a real tribe, it is much easier to make a living than ever before. You don't have to live in a big city to have opportunity. Again, much more on this in You Don't Need a Job.
Remember, at the core of our evolved social design, we do best in a small social setting. It's all about identity. As much as we like our anonymity in the big city, our deeper self craves the reality of being known. We bask in being able to go into the store and be recognized. We like to be waved at by people in cars. We enjoy naturally stopping in the street for a chat. We are being groomed and we are grooming.
After a few years of living on Prince Edward Island, population 140,000 people, I lost my social armour. I recall visiting my son in Toronto after a few years in this small place, and I could not help myself from saying good morning to people in the street. "Dad! We are in Toronto now!" he said embarassed.
Living in a small place melts the armour that we need to cope with life in a major city. Once the armour comes off in the street, it comes off at home too. I can see now that 'Armoured Robert' came home everynight. I had played that part so well and for so long that he became me. Now vulnerable Rob lives in all the parts of my life.
There is another time element in living in a small place too. This time the issue is pace.
As much as we think we love the pace of the big city, once you have decompressed and adjusted to the pace of the small, you will love the way that time stretches in a small community. The smaller the community, the slower the pace. The slower the pace, the fewer the expectations on time. The fewer the expectations, the less stress.
I have learned that time is not a matter of measured minutes, hours, days, months or years. Time is in fact a very elastic concept and is felt rather than measured by the clock. In the job world, the clock rules. I was always out of time. In the tribal and rural world, I always have time.
Stop being possessed by possessions and so by money
Living in a small place also enabled me to cut my ongoing costs a great deal. Remember, Hunter Gatherers have few possessions. In the modern world, we all try and increase our stuff and so need more money. In the HG world, I try all the time to reduce my need for stuff and my structural costs.
This means that I need less to work and earn a living and more and more I can be free. For again, the HG lifestyle means that you only have to work for about 30% of the time. I go into great detail on this point in You Don't Need a Job.
On Prince Edward Island, housing costs are a fraction of the big city. It is a lot less stressful to need less money to pay for things that to strive to have more. In my job life I needed to earn at least $300,000 a year to break even. Today I live well on $30,000. In You Don't Need a Job, I explore how to see the costs of a job and how I made this shift to needing so much less.
Money can be a huge stressor. To make this stress go away is not to choose poverty but to choose simplicity. It is to make structural changes in how you live so that you don't spend too much on housing, transport, heat and food. It is to find ways of exchanging time for money. For if you do this right, you will have lots more time. When I had a job I had a time deficit, so I paid cash for everything. With time, I need much less cash. With time I can cook real food and even grow it. With time, I can heat with wood. This also gets me active and outdoors and makes my diet healthy. It's a positive cycle.
Having time is I think the new status too. I used to have lots of things, smart cars, smart houses, smart clothes. It looked as if I was succssful. It appeared that I had high status. But I was one pay cheque away from trouble. I was as much a slave as most people.
Status and control are the main social drivers of our health. With control over my time and high freedom, I have real status and control. I have met most of my health needs in the social sphere. No one can take this away from me. I am in charge of my place in society as a HG would be.
But there remains another layer of challenge to get free from. We have to get free from the shackles of our family experience and we have to get free from our fear of death. This is the really hard work and I was not ready to start this until I had got a lot of what I have just talked about well under way.
Escape from the shadows of your nuclear family
Our reality is created by how we react to our home culture before we are 3. Our brain is wired for life then. This experience can make us stronger or weaker as we age. We sometimes need to take stock and make a correction.
This is a huge and a sensitive subject. Here is a link to the science.
How we are raised affects the trajectory for how we develop over our life. It affects how we learn or not. It affects how we behave or not. It affects our health. It affects our emotional development too. Will we grow up as a real adult or remain stuck at some earlier point? Will we keep playing out our own family drama and story in the other parts of our life? Much is determined by what we experienced before we are 3. Many issues that we not resolved then, play out in our adult lives.
The modern workplace is full of people playing out these family dramas. Mine was, the Missing Father and so I looked for "fathers" who would finally accept me. Outside of work I played out the Missing Mother and looked for "mothers" who would love me. All of this was of course very bad for me and for all I chose to play these games with.
Many of us, whose development has been stunted by a dysfunctional home, stay an infant or a child. Many who have been bullied, bully. Many who have not been loved enough, love too much.
As I got to be more me, the demons of my childhood that had lurked in the background, moved into the foreground. This was a terrible time for me. When I had been so busy, and so shut down, I had been able to surpress this awareness. It seemed to me that my new freedom had come with a curse.
I did seek professional help. This can help. But I found a better way. I found a way that I could put my demons aside for myself. I could rewire my brain. This process is called neuroplasicity. Though I did not know this at the time.
In the HG world, we all know everything about our ancestors. In the modern world, we often know nothing. My starting position was that my parents were uncaring infantile people. That I had been dealt a bad hand by them and that they were not good people. As these feelings surged up, I became very angry with them. I judged them cruelly.
This was very stressful. Again, I was stuck. I knew that this was very bad for me. I could not change what had happened, so what was I to do? I had to find out why they had behaved the way that they had. I had to find out why.
As I began to learn about their lives, I began to have compassion for them and then shame at how cruel I had been. I saw how they had suffered. I started to understand. I looked at myself and found no parental paragon either. Who was I to judge? I started to change my story from "Poor Me" to "What Can I do Now?" I started to rewire my brain. I created new thought habits.
After a few years I stopped feeling bad at all. I had rewired my brain. I had new tapes that were better and productive. I could love my parents again. There was in the end nothing to forgive. All this corrosive again, fear and pain fell away. And with that, all the related stress.
I had thought that I was a grown up adult in my 40's. I was not. I was still playing out my childhood losses. My observation is that most of us are. The nuclear family is too fragile a child raising unit. Most of us have less than ideal social settings for this critical part of life. Most of us are raised as children by grown ups who are in many ways still children themselves. The job world places them in an impossible conflict.
It is now time to start to rethink the family again.
Work to create a real tribe
I am reaching the time of my life when productive work is less of an option. In the HG world, 62 year old men did not go hunting. They advised the hunters. They told stories. They adjudicated disputes. They looked after the young. 60 year old women also made the same kind of shift away from the primary economic work.
In my 40's I sought a work tribe. I now seek the larger and more complete tribe. I seek the ideal which is a unit that provides both the economics AND the full social setting for all ages. I now seek a place in such a tribe that is mainly a nurturing role.
In my 60's, my tribe is evolving. Before, it was mainly about making a living. It could be virtual. It is now evolving onto a close group of people, some of who are related, who are starting to look after each other in practical sense. It is more a close physical tribe.
And we we do this, we extend this care to our adult children who themseves are struggling with small ones and to each other. I don't know how this will work out. But I know this, if I get to 80, there will be no seniors homes. I had better be healthy and I had better have a network or I am in big trouble.
As I look ahead, I see that all the institutions that we take for granted can fail. I don't trust that the food system will feed me. I don't trust that energy will be easy and cheap. I don't trust that the education or health system will be there. I don't trust that pensions or investments will be there. I don't trust that the government will be there. I don't trust that even money will exist. I certainly don't trust that the weather will be the same.
I cannot control any of this. I can only get ready myself and help my tribe get ready. I see the great work of our time as this project. Getting ready to be more resilient so that we have half a chance to cope with the vast changes that seem inevitable.
For surely it was the Tribe that enabled humans to cope with all changes for millions of years. It is the ideal social container for challenging times. It enables each of us to have some control in a world where there is none. The wonder of this project is that there are millions of people out there who are also involved. We can all help each other. We can be supported by each other. What a feeling of community!
But there is one further step. One thing is certain. That you and I will die. I think that the final stage in our development as a human is to learn to accept death itself. For death is the last great stressor. For if we deny it, we are in conflict with our deep truth.
Get a dog, get outside and stop worrying about death
We are the only species to have self knowledge about death. This is a terrible burden to carry. In the modern world we don't. Most don't think about death consciously. Most deny it. We try and be eternally young. We worship youth. People hope that there will be a god to save them. But the truth of our death eats away at us, if we deny it.
If we deny our own death, we prevent oursleves from truly enjoying life.
I was as frightened as anyone can be. But I am not scared of death anymore. As a result, I am at peace. Peace that I have never felt before. So how did this happen? It mainly happened as a result of me spending a lot of time in nature. Living in a rural setting is a start. It happened because I had the time to be open.
I also have a very good spiritaul and nature advisor. I have a dog. Every day, rain or shine, snow or sleet, clear or windy I walk the dog. We take the same routes. Each day, we see the differences as the cycle of life plays out. We see the first wormcast that heralds spring. We see the last leaf fall. We see how the leaves change colour and how the wild flowers rotate. We see dead animals. We see birds nesting and chicks fledging. We see how everthing has a cycle.
The dog takes me there. She opens my eyes to the detail of all this life and all this death that surrounds us all.
My dogs also show me how to enjoy life. The dog is excited by just waking up in the morning. The dog loves every meal as if it might be her last. Dogs love to love me and they love to be loved. They embody love. They love me as I am. They want to be close to me all the time.
And their short lives show me that I cannot avoid my own end. In 12 years Jay goes though all the stages of a life. The bounding puppy, the mad teen, the stud, the calm older male, the gentle soul and then only the memory.
Knowing how precious every day alive is, I too now get up in the morning glad to be alive. I too eat every meal with gratitude. I welcome people into my life. If I had a tail, I would wag it.
The greatest irony has been that allowing myself to be certain of my death has made my life so much better. After all, what can happen to me: I am going to die anyway? I used to worry about all sorts of things. But now that I know that I will die, and that this is OK, all my projects and hopes have a perspective. Now I can live for the moment.
I could never have got to this place without having taken all the other steps first. I write this aged 62. I cannot know how I will develop further. I only know that giving up the job, and the culture attached to the job, has set me free to get back to the life that all humans are designed to live.
We can go home
I don't live in a cave and wear skins and hunt mammoths but I hope that I have been able to show you that I have made a lot of progress in living like a hunter gatherer in today's world. We can eat like one. We can use our bodies like one and we can live in the same kind of social environment as one. We can have a spiritual life of a Hunter Gatherer. We can do all of this and still be in the modern world.
It's a matter of choices and design.
The big choice is to leave the world of the Job. For it is the Job that forces us into eating poorly. It is the Job that sits us down all day. It is the Job that takes us away from our ideal social setting. It is the Job world that is at the cause of all our chronic illness.
500 years ago, pilgrims came to America to enable them to escape the prevailing culture of the old world. I think that we too are pilgrims. We too have to escape todays prevailing culture. There is no new land but there is a new world. It is in our mind. When enough of us go there, we will change the larger culture.
But for now, each of us can do this. We need to wait for no one. It is in our control and the path is known.
....... we have not even to risk the adventure alone; for the heroes of all time have gone before us; the labyrinth is thoroughly known; we have only to follow the thread of the heropath. And where we had thought to find an abomination, we shall find a god; where we had thought to slay another, we shall slay ourselves; where we had thought to travel outward, we shall come to the centre of our existence; where we had thought to be alone, we shall be with all the world."
Joseph Campbell, Hero of a Thousand Faces
As you can see, this is a very complex subject. I can only offer you a survy here. Here is a link to a companion website that I have set up up where you can see a lot more. On the site, you will find a mass of articles, videos and posts that take you much deeper.
Here is an introduction to the best scientists in this field. You will find more of their work on the site as well.
Our Social Environment - Dr Sir Michael Marmot
Do you work at the bottom of a hierarchy? Then you will get ill and die 4 times earlier than those at the top. Married to your work as a man? Retirement will kill you in 5 years. Are you at the lower end of the vast income inequality in the US and the UK? You will get ill.
How much control and Status we have in life directly affects our health. Medicine and access to healthcare has nothing to do with these differences in health outcomes.
Dr Sir Michael Marmot is the world's leading authority on how human social environments affect our health. Cubicle land and factory work is lethal. Large differences in national income is lethal. Inequality is lethal.
His research on the Brtish Civil Service is a landmark piece of work that sheds light on how this works.
Our Social Environment - Professor Robert Sapolsky
So how does this process work? All primates get stressed by social issues. Zebras only worry at the moment when they are being chased by the lion. Baboons worry all the time about their place in the troop. Humans worry even more. Our consciousness can be a curse. We can worry oursleves about the mortgage or global warming too.
Sapolsky is the leading scientist studying the primate and human stress mechanism.
Sapolsky is a brilliant scientist and a remarkable explainer. His lectures online are very accessible and offer massive insights as to why we, as the most social of all animals, have to pay attention to our social environment and do all we can to make it less stressful.
Social Environment Early Childhood - Dr J Doug Willms
The single most important social factor on our health over a lifetime is the social environment that we had from 0 - 3. When I say 0, I mean from the moment of conception. Children's world view, and so their stress reaction to life is set by 3. This setting drives the development trajectory for life.
Professor Doug Willms is the authority on the link between family culture and long term development outcomes for children.
So how we parent is key. If we are too top down, use power all the time, don't touch enough, speak to but not converse with - all signs of a stressed person - then we set up poor conditions. If we allow everything, let the child run her life, don't stand firm on important issues, are distant - then this too has poor outcomes. The worst being when each parent has one of these two styles.
The best outcomes are from parents who stand firm on important things but allow a lot of room for all others. Who have lots of conversation with their infants. Who touch their kids a lot and who are affectionate with each other.
This style of parenting is not tied into any one income level. So many of us have been captured by our own stress response to the corporate world. It leads me to believe that earning our living in a different way will help.
Social Environment Parenting - The Late Jean Liedloff
Just as Michael Rose goes back in time to show us a lifestyle that is suited to how we evolve, so the late Jena Liedloff does this in how best to parent. Her work is the manual of our evolution and is very accessible and pragmatic
Social Environment - PTSD - DR Jonathan Shay
PTSD is a massive issue in the west today after more than a decade of warfare. Here again people have been shaped by their environment. So is the cause of PTSD the trauma of seeing or doing bad things?
Shay has discovered that this is too simple a perspective. The deeper cause of PTSD, and all illness caused by trauma, is Betrayal. This is why incest is such a terrible act as it involves the worst betrayal of all.
PTSD is driven by bad leadership. A military that has leaders who care not for their men but for their careers. A political class that goes to war and exploits the patriotism of their young men for a game and not a real cause. A system that rotates men too often and breaks their attachments.
This betrayal was seen everywhere in Vietnam. All that was wrong in Viertnam has taken place again in Iraq and in Afghanistan. As those involved learn that they were betrayed, their feelings will deepen. The PTSD epidemic will grow.
Shay also has done the work to find a way for these men to come home. And it is not drugs or experts. It is in helping people help each other. It is in helping them find a tribe again. Medicine and conventional therapy does not work. Only the tribe can offer the trust required to quiet the demons.
Changing Deep Beliefs - Alan Deutschman
How do we change our wiring? If we have depression, PTSD, had a shitty childhood, have addictions? There is no pill. There is no smart man in a white coat. But there is a proven social process and journalist Alan Deutschman has made a lifetime study about what this is.
His work, Sapolsky's, Mate's, Frankl's and Shay's all intersect and support each other. Alan offers a special clarity and great case studies.
Changing Deep Beliefs - Neuroplasticity - Dr Norman Doidge
And so what is this kind of change that Alan reviews so clearly? ? We have to rewire our brain - literally. Our beliefs, or our automatic responses to an event, have been hard wired in our brain by repetition. The more times we go to THAT place, the faster we go there. It is like a river cutting a chasm.
Doidge and Sapolsky have unravelled how this mechanism works and are using the understanding of the plasticity of the brain to change the wiring.
Dr Norman Doidge has had great success in helping people rewire. Even people with schizophrenia.
Posted at 09:47 AM in 55 Theses, Aging, Books, Community, Death and Meaning, Design, Dogs, Environment, Evolutionary Fit, Family, Freelancing, Health, Hope, Human Workplace, Ideas - philosophy, jobs, Local Resiliency, Makers, Making a Living, Michael Rose, Mindset, Missing Human Manual, Musings, My other Sites, Natural Organization, Organizations and Culture, Paleo, Paradigms, Parenting, Peak Oil, PEI, Pensions, Resilient Communities, Rob's Life, Seniors, Sex and relationships, Social Economy, Trust, Trusted Space, Workplace, You Don't Need a Job | Permalink | Comments (3)
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