Human Focused Living: Bringing Humanity to Life
Updated: May 7, 2020
As I simultaneously dive deeper into the conditions and choices that make us healthy, whole humans and pay more attention to our daily choices and the products available to us to live our lives, I’m often surprised by how much of our world is at odds with what helps us to thrive. So much of what we engage with daily asks us to fit around it instead of it fitting around us.
Because of this, we’re going to be talking about Human Focused Living, essentially calling up the spaces in our lives that perhaps are not so conducive to whole, healthy living and to explore what it might mean to live these areas in a human-focused way. Think: We are at desks sitting all day even though we weren’t created to sit that long. Our shoes are a one size fits all, yet we all have uniquely crafted bodies. We stare at screens all day long, but they wreak havoc on our eyes. But we still can choose differently - food grown from rich soil, getting restful sleep, and slowing down our pace of life.
So before we begin, are there any places in your life that come to mind that might be normalized ways of working against our human nature?
Food + Nutrition
Let’s start with food. Our bodies are intricately designed to work with naturally occurring plant and animal sources in our world. When you look at nutrition studies, it’s actually amazing to see such a beautiful reciprocal relationship we have with other living beings on our planet. Unfortunately, due to new introductions like GMO’s, glyphosate, chemical additives and the invention of the modern day supermarket, we find ourselves often eating food-like substances that our body either doesn’t recognize or mistakes for something else. When that happens, we end up with all sorts of issues like autoimmune disease, depression, and general fatigue and brain fog.
What’s the best way to engage in human focused living? Well, I’d say if you have the ability to grow all your own food, start there. But if you’re not in a space or place to be able to do that, shopping close to the source is best. I mean two things by that - shopping local and going for foods with the fewest ingredients. That might looks like a Saturday stroll through your local farmers market, working with a CSA or local farmer, or shopping around the perimeter of the grocery store.
Pace of Life
I read an article this morning where the first sentences said this: “Couples are having far less sex, a massive 20-year analysis suggests. The sheer pace of modern life may be to blame.” You may or may not be in a relationship where sex is part of your dynamic, but I think this study says it all. When we collectively have no time for the act that brings and sustains all of the human race, we have seriously misstepped living as human.
It’s not just this. We see every day people having less time for their family and loved ones. So many unable to sit and rest, not just not having the time but also not knowing how. Stress-related illness on the rise and continuing to rise, not to mention topics of depression and anxiety and other challenges that largely come about because we are simply moving about our days in an unsustainable way.
The other day I got caught up in an unexpected situation with some students I work with. Over two hours of my evening took a turn I didn’t and couldn’t foresee. As I was waiting with a number of them, they made a remark about the time I was spending with them. My response: “I read somewhere a while ago if we are too busy to be interrupted, then we are too busy.” I don’t claim to live that every day, but I think it’s a helpful guide to help determine when all of the parts, pieces, and commitments in our lives are too much.
Media + Technology
It’s true. There are a million great things to say about technology and social media. We live thousands of miles from the people we call home, so we are the first ones to raise our hands to the fact that we rely on it heavily. And then there’s the other side. It’s likely you’ve already seen the research about social media and about the way we are using the technology that somehow never leaves our sight -- the time spend scrolling is directly correlated to incidence of anxiety and depression. Or worth and identify tied up in looks and amazing experiences thanks to the media we consume so regularly. Constant input from events happening all over the global, most of which are outside of our comprehension.
There are more and more people adding their voices to the chorus of wielding our technology positively. In many ways, it helps connect us, but often it’s at the expense of the people, needs, and challenges right in front of where we physically are. It can be a beautiful creative outlet, and yet many see their whole world through how many Instagram “likes” their lives may receive. Left unchecked these powerful tools become our greatest enemies, sneaking their way into bedrooms and around the dinner table.
So decide right now how you will use the tool, not how the tool will use you. What is your need? Does this technology help meet that need? And is this piece of technology the BEST way of meeting that need?
Speaking of technology, I feel the need to add in another practical aspect of the phones, tablets, and tools that use a connection to the towers around us. This is the topic of EMF’s or Electromagnetic Frequencies. There is quite a conversation that has come up about 5G, and of course most of us have lived in a time where we lived on no-G at all, 3G and 4G, which makes another step up in the fast lane one to not spend too much time dwelling on.
But I’ll ask you to think again. Top researchers in the field have already classed 5G as a known carcinogen and nations have decided on the go-ahead with its installation and use for the sake of quicker, faster lives. Some of the most significant and common side effects of EMF exposure are fatigue, sleeplessness, headaches, brain fog, and depression/anxiety.
It seems unlikely in most places the move forward on this can be stopped or slowed, so what can you do to protect yourself? 1. Turn your phone on airplane mode with the wifi off when you sleep at night. 2. Don’t carry your phone in your pockets or anywhere on your body (or simply turn it on airplane mode). 3. Use headphones when talking on the phone.
The news on toxins and pharmaceutical use is actually startling. The United States makes up 5% of the world’s population and yet it uses 85% of it’s pharmaceuticals. Sources say it’s growing. Our plastics are filled with all sorts of unhelpful chemicals and these are the kinds of chemicals that end up in expansive landfills and then into the soil that grows our food and the water that comes from our taps. We make choices on our beauty products that actually have chemicals in them that alter the way our genes express themselves.
The fact of the matter is that what hurts our environment also hurts ourselves and what brings us life and sustained life also brings the earth sustained life.
Two questions we ask ourselves a lot is 1. Can nature do it better? And 2. If not, what’s the next most sustainable option? What these questions do is take us out a linear path that takes us from raw material, consumption, and waste, to a more cyclical path that continues to regenerate and reuse. We’re all part of the same chorus, despite our rugged individualism, which means that health comes from connection between you and me, between our bodies and the earth, and between our bodies and our souls.
In past versions of myself, I was the one shouting from the rooftops, “sleep when you’re dead!” I think if you were to ask me then, I’d say something along the lines of wanting to get the most out of this exciting life we get to live, but I also think much of it was motivated by this, what I would say is, American-bent weakness of sleeping. For the sake of productivity. To not miss a beat. To finish that one last thing.
But as I’ve steeped in other cultures for a while now, I’ve come to realize that this kind of lifestyle was exactly the biggest barrier to my ability to relax and connect and show up fully for my life.
So what about sleep is so important? Well at the very basic level, sleep has the most significant impact on our emotional, cognitive, and somatic functioning. It’s responsible for energy conservation and plays a huge role in coordinating all of the communication that happens throughout our body from one system to the next. One of the most exciting parts of sleep that I’ve found, though, is that when we sleep, we process our day’s events and lesson and make even more sense of the world around us. We solidify memories and thoughts. It’s the actual mechanism that allows us to remember and then re-member our worlds back together.
Human Focused Living - it’s about considering how to shape our choices and products and services around how we are human, not changing how we are human to fit our choices and products and services. Food, pace of life, technology, toxins, and sleep are only a handful of areas of our life we could take a more critical look. And with that said, where else might you change and adjust to be more human focused?