Meet Mark

Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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Category: Personal Improvement

7 Primal Ways to Be a Better Leader

Everywhere you go these days it seems like there’s big talk about leadership. Schools build curricula around it. Businesses feel the need to train their employees in it, including those who aren’t in management roles. Whereas leadership used to be seen primarily as a function, it’s now touted as a virtue. We’re told everybody should want to be one and is, of course, in need of whatever x, y, z leadership program is being sold that day. I guess I see both sides of the coin here. While I think pushing leadership ad nausea demotes other equally valuable skills and roles like the specialist and artisan (among others), I also believe there’s purpose in cultivating a deeper command of one’s own life and in understanding how to bring self-management to bear in leading others.

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Primal Rage: How to Manage Unproductive Anger

If you ask the average person on the street to list “primal emotions,” I’d venture that anger would be one of the first examples they offer. I think we automatically connect a primal state with anger because anger’s power is more reminiscent of instinct than sentiment. It’s an emotion that can instantaneously engulf our entire being—a red hot feeling that can send all rational thought and genuine self-interest down the toilet in a nanosecond. While other emotions have their physical hold, anger can grip us in a way few others can. Fear, the other primary instinctual emotion, generally lifts with a clear, even euphoric release (as long as its situational, not a product of neuroses). Anger, however, doesn’t die so easily. Like the embers in a fire, it needs ample time to fade. The visceral energy of anger is remarkably durable. We kid ourselves if we think we’re immune to its inherent human force. That said, how can we keep it reined in enough to not thwart our own well-being (not to mention anyone else’s)? How can we control or manage it—even channel it? In short, how can we have and express anger without getting burned by it?

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10 Ways to Encourage Primal Body Positivity

Standing in the checkout line of your average grocery store is a telling cultural experience. For the few minutes it takes for the checker to ring the person in front of you, there you idle with your cart—surrounded by the ironic juxtaposition of junk food aisle caps and fashion/fitness magazines. The images of impossibly smooth or ripped celebrities and models—strategically lit and otherwise doctored—stare you down on your way to check out. And people buy these magazines with gusto, even though they’re basically all the same—featuring the same rehashed articles or selling the same impossible body expectations. Is it any wonder so few people can meet their bodies with acceptance? But this got me thinking: what would a Primal magazine cover and its models look like? (I have a few thousand ideas for both.) I’d like to think it would have a lot to say toward optimizing physical function and embracing individual variance over imposed media standards, but I’ve always been that contrary type. So let’s go down that road a bit and look at some down-to-earth, practical takeaways for encouraging Primal body positivity.

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How I’d Change Grade School

Research indicates that the growing emphasis on academic rigor in grade school is ineffectual at best and counterproductive at worst.

Several months ago, a pair of studies threw early education enthusiasts into disarray. The first compared the subsequent achievement of kids enrolled in an academic pre-k program to kids who were not (PDF). By first grade, the kids who’d attended pre-k were slightly more advanced, but by grade two, the benefits vanished and even gave way to deficits. Second graders who’d never attended pre-k were beating those who had. They had better work habits and a more positive outlook on school in general. In the second, researchers found that delaying kindergarten for one year reduced hyperactivity and attention problems at age 11 by 73% and nearly abolished the chance that the average child would have a higher-than-normal rating on the “inattentive-hyperactive behavioral measure.” Other than their preschool background, the kids were all drawn from similar pools.

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Why Romantic Love Is Essential to Human Experience

What? A post on romantic love? Has Sisson gone soft? No, I promise you’ll find no Hallmark material here. I’m the same empirically minded, rational guy you’ve come to know over the years. That said, the marketing forces of this week have inspired something in me. Not the desire to buy milk chocolate, but the drive to apply a Primal perspective to the topic of romantic love. As with most cultural phenomena, Valentine’s Day is part commercial hoopla and part genuine human inclination. So how do we honor the substance of the holiday while separating out the marketing static? Maybe a Primal lens (at least in the anthropological sense) doesn’t make for the most sentimental post about romantic love. But there’s plenty of authentic awe—and maybe some thought-provoking sense—to be had from the exercise. See if you agree…

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Nootropics: Brain Enhancers, Smart Drugs, or Empty Hype?

Hang around on nootropic forums where fans and users congregate and you’ll come away with the notion that you’re missing out on a leg up if you’re not taking the latest and greatest nootropic supplement. Nootropics promise vague benefits to “cognition” and “performance,” but what’s really happening? Do nootropics actually work as advertised? Some of them do, absolutely. But others, maybe not so much.

Today’s post will deal solely with compounds, foods, and supplements available over the counter in most countries. Other supplements may have promise, like modafinil and micro-dosed psychedelics, but are unavailable through standard legal means. Plus, their potential benefits may come with some dramatic side effects. So I won’t discuss those. Not today, at least. Instead, I’ll talk about some of the more commonly referred to ways you may (or may not) be able to boost your brain power—some of which are clearly primal approved.

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