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What does ‘Humans Are Not Broken’ Mean?

Humans Are Not Broken is a phrase that can help you think about things a little differently. It’s a reminder that…

  • No matter what happens to us physically or mentally, we are never innately broken as human beings.
  • Marketing and advertising are often designed to make us feel inadequate, incomplete, incapable, and unhappy…until we buy something! Even your favorite health guru may be guilty of this tactic.
  • Human beings are a natural part of the world. Like all animals, we can be nourished and lead fulfilling lives in our natural setting. This does not mean all of modernity is bad. Rather, it helps us recognize that we are not separate from nature, and that we actually need very little.
  • We benefit greatly from providing ourselves with our basic human needs. These include (but are not limited to): nourishing food, sleep, sunshine and time in nature, physical activity, meaningful work, creative expression, time with our loved ones, freedom, etc.
  • We are the heirs of millions of years of evolutionary processes. We can cultivate intuition that guides us to make the right choices about food and lifestyle. Doing this effectively may require quite a lot of unlearning.
  • Our bodies and our minds are not enemies that must be conquered.
  • Many people believe themselves to be broken, when in fact it’s the systems we live under that are really broken. The fact that so much obesity, depression, anxiety, and stress is produced by our society and culture ought to tell us something.
  • ‘Humans Are Not Broken’ DOES NOT mean: People never get sick; are never handicapped; never have disease; nor that we should avoid  technology or modern medicine when we need help. Before we take drastic measures, let’s just remember to address those basics.

Here are some insights I’ve gleaned from this philosophy:

  • The cure is not necessarily the cause. For example, if aspirin makes your headache go away, it doesn’t mean your headache was caused by lack of aspirin. The same thing applies to carbohydrates, fish oil, sugar, fat, and any number of other foods and nutrients. For example, if cutting carbs helps you lose weight, it doesn’t mean that carbs made you overweight in the first place.
  • There is rarely one cause. Today, most of us lead extremely busy, stressful lives. We sit a lot — and perhaps worse than that, we find ourselves doing uninspiring tasks while we sit.  Many people abuse drugs, overeat yet don’t eat much real food, have distressed microbiomes, breathe polluted or stagnant air, are exposed to harmful chemicals, etc. Simply eating more kale or “healthy fats” cannot address all of these things. A cure-all is something pitched by sales people or disciples.
  • Optimal diets change with phases of health and aging. Just as children start with breast milk and eventually move on to solid foods, our optimal diets can continue to change over time. As you grow older, you may need more protein. Or, as you become more active, you may need more carbohydrates. Although some general truths apply to nearly everyone, the ideal diet is an individual endeavor.
  • We can be healthy without obsessing about health. In fact, it is unhealthy to constantly think about health in everything that we do. The goal should be to integrate what we learn into our lives in such a way that we are nourished, stimulated, active, and happy without constantly having to think about it.
  • The solution should not be part of a person’s ‘brand.‘ When all you have is a hammer, all problems start to look like nails. “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”—Upton Sinclair
  • The dose makes the poison, or learn your U-curve. Just because a little bit of something makes you feel better doesn’t mean that something will always make you feel better. Nor does it mean that more of it will make you feel even better.
  • The misses are as important as the hits…perhaps more important. Published drug studies, personal testimonials, even our own memories can be heavily biased toward the successes. In the case of drug trials, the misses can be deliberately hidden (i.e. unpublished). So even when available research points to a certain conclusion, we have to ask: What are the potential unknowns?
  • Never confuse the certainty of the messenger with the validity of the message. Bertrand Russell once said, “The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts.”
  • Trusting and listening to ourselves is crucial. Are human beings equipped with the ability to sense (physically and mentally) what it is that we truly need? I believe the answer to this is yes. I also believe that this takes quite a bit of experimentation, open-mindedness, and unlearning of conventional wisdom.

“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science. He to whom the emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand wrapped in awe, is as good as dead — his eyes are closed.”
— Albert Einstein