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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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December 27, 2012

Primal Actualization: Realizing Your Inner Potential

By Mark Sisson
46 Comments

LeapIf the earlier holidays of the season are more socially-driven, New Year’s is the more personal, the more private. Sure, there are the parties, the throngs in Times Square, and the general cycle of media hoopla surrounding New Year’s Eve, but the real crux of this annual event is contemplative. The party hats and noise makers have their heyday for a few hours (for some of us the hangover claims a few more). But the more insistent, pensive theme of the holiday is the part that lingers – first drifting into our psyches after the bigger festivities have cleared away and the guests have all gone home.

Even if we scoff at the concept of resolutions, no amount of cynicism can keep us from at least entertaining the thought of a new year as a new beginning. After all, there’s something universally hopeful and tantalizing about a transition. We can’t help but think of the possibilities: “Maybe this year….” In some cases, we may just be grateful to kiss the current year goodbye. (We all have those times.) But even if we’ve just wrapped up a pretty decent year, we ascribe to the New Year’s potential for change. On some level, we allow it to influence our hopes – and outlook – on the coming year.

Personally, I think this is a good thing. Grok and his kin undoubtedly celebrated the natural transition of the seasons and the metaphorical narratives that they designed in connection to them. It’s human to seek out beginnings. I’ll of course offer up a more traditional call for the New Year next week, but I wanted to throw out something more nuanced and inexact than a “resolution,” something akin to vision, a musing that I call “Primal actualization.”

When we talk about self-actualization, we usually think of it in the psychological sense (related but not limited to Maslow’s definition) of realizing our highest personal potential, which for many of us tends to pigeonhole us into specializing in a particular endeavor. (I will be the reigning ping-pong player in all of history!) Truth is, actualization in many respects contradicts such a narrow mindset of specializing. Actualization, in fact, encompasses a broad spectrum, influencing everything from one’s capacity to bond with other people to the ability to develop perspective on life and society, from pursuing a creative pursuit to witnessing the profound details in any given moment. I’d argue it’s a kind of open-ended wisdom that is fully engaged with life. Sounds like a great goal, eh?

I know I always have caveman on the brain, but I can’t think of actualization without contemplating the primal undertones. Too often we cast self-actualization as transcending beyond of our “lesser” or “baser” selves. In the traditional hierarchical view, actualization is a process not just higher but separate from the fulfilling of lower needs like eating, sex, and socialization. But what if we looked at self-actualization less as a rising above our humanity and more as a living the full measure of it?

Living our full humanity includes honoring the primal rhythms and genetic expectations that course through us, vestiges of our evolutionary roots and directives of our primal operating systems. It means embracing the wisdom of our ancestors not just as anthropological origins but as wellsprings, for a fulfilled and healthy life. It means allowing ourselves to explore and exercise our primal dimensions by spending time in the wild, getting ample sun, and playing every day.

Primal, in other words, is more than just a metaphor. When we live and connect Primally, we actively access our inner potential. We harness the power of the mind-body connection, the effects of flow and euphoria, the energy of sensory experience. When we approach it primally, actualization can feel like potent therapy in the modern world.

So, what would it be like to Primally actualize our relationships with others this year? How about devoting the year to Primally actualizing our relationship with sleep or food or our pursuit of play? I mean more than just trying it or working it in here and there but making a point of “realizing” its full potential in our lives. When we live each day discovering and unfolding these deep layers of our humanity, we’re inevitably changed. In unearthing ourselves, we come into our own. I’ve heard readers say it feels like a homecoming of sorts.

What is possible when we envision living by this compass in the coming year? How could we find ourselves changed next New Year’s? What would Primal actualization, living the fuller measure of humanity, mean for you? It isn’t a resolution, per se, but a way of re-envisioning the potential impact of a year’s time and purpose.

Thanks for reading, everyone. Share your thoughts and comments on making the new year Primal.

The Sequel to The Primal Blueprint Releases on January 8

In just two weeks I’ll be releasing The Primal Connection, the long-awaited sequel to The Primal Blueprint. As friends and colleagues within the ancestral movement have so generously described, The Primal Connection offers the first really new dimension in the paleo/Primal space in years. Is there any better way to start the new year – not to mention the fact that we all survived the Mayan apocalypse? In all seriousness, I’ve been pumped about this launch for months now.

Like The Primal Blueprint, The Primal Connection is both a culmination and expansion of principles I’ve first introduced here on MDA. It picks up where The Primal Blueprint left off, by extending the primal theme beyond the diet and exercise basics. In it I present a comprehensive plan to overcome the flawed mentality and hectic pace of high-tech, modern life and reprogram your genes to become joyful, care-free, and at peace with the present. Inherent to The Primal Connection is the concept that we can use the model of our ancestors to create not just a healthier existence but also a more balanced and fulfilling life. My hope is that upon reading it you’ll emerge with a renewed appreciation for the simple pleasures of life and our most precious gifts of time, health, and love.

Just as I did for Primal Blueprint Healthy Sauces, Dressings & Toppings earlier this month, I’ll have something special put together for devoted Mark’s Daily Apple readers when this book is released on January 8th, 2013. So mark your calendar and be ready to jump on the offer while it lasts.

P.S. If you’ve pre-ordered a copy of The Primal Connection, don’t worry. All pre-orders will be eligible to receive the free bonuses that will be part of the book release offer.

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46 Comments on "Primal Actualization: Realizing Your Inner Potential"

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Paleo Suz
3 years 9 months ago

Been looking forward to this book – can’t wait to get it!

Shamra Byrne
3 years 9 months ago

I love the idea of Primally actualizing our relationships with others this year. My educational training has taught me that healthy relationships are an essential form of nourishment. We even go so far as to call them one of our “primary foods” because, while they don’t come on a plate, when these “primary foods” are balanced, what you eat becomes secondary. Here’s to a new year and some Primal actualization!

GrokMendoza
3 years 9 months ago

This is something I need to work on. When it comes to healthy relationships. I’m malnourished

Groktimus Primal
3 years 9 months ago

Everything old is new again and this time it’s a much better deal than bell-bottoms!

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[…] If the earlier holidays of the season are more socially-driven, New Year’s is the more personal, the more private. Sure, there are the parties, the throngs in Times Square, and the general cycle of media hoopla surrounding New Year’s Eve, but the real crux of the event is contemplative. The party hats and noise makers […]… Mark’s Daily Apple […]

Tasha
3 years 9 months ago

I understand the concept of “actualization”, but am having a hard time describing it! I would like to more fully experience my potential to be fit. I focused on fitness a lot last year, but I think finding a new approach that makes it a fact of life, and not just something I need to remember to do daily/weekly/on a schedule, will help integrate it. It seems like The Primal Connection will focus more on the concept of Primal living as a lifestyle, rather than the implementation, which sounds pretty cool!

Amy
Amy
3 years 9 months ago
What’s on my calendar is my lifestyle. 🙂 If I allowed my 100% primal woman to come out, I’d be sitting in front of the TV on a sugar buzz most of my days. Ironically, I block off “spontaneous” play time, but if I didn’t do that the time would be sucked away in ways I’m not happy with later. (Been there, done that, bought the T-shirt. 🙂 ) Grokette didn’t face the endless choices we have to spend a day. I guess what I’m saying is that if you’ve planned time and actually do it, it seems to me… Read more »
Jamesbond
Jamesbond
3 years 9 months ago

Do crossfit!!

Alyssa Luck
3 years 9 months ago

This post reminds me of a novel I just started reading called “Island,” by Aldous Huxley (he also wrote “Brave New World”). It’s about a utopia of sorts on a small island, and the people seem very connected to their primal side. They don’t have much in the way of technology, and they put a great deal of effort into experiencing the present. They even trained parrots all over the island to repeat “Attention” and “Here and now, boys” to remind the people to pay attention to every moment as it happens.

Moshen
Moshen
3 years 9 months ago

I know I always have caveman on the brain…

My new bumper sticker: “Paleocephalus – Catch It!”

Primal Toad
3 years 9 months ago

I’m close to calling The Primal Connection the most important book of 2013. I have an advanced copy and it is really really awesome. It’s all about something that no one in this community ever talks about.

It’s discussed now and then but not to the extent of what it should be.

Food is important but is it THE most important?

No!

Cleo
3 years 9 months ago

I love the first book and will for sure love the next one. I can´t wait for it to come out.

Ion Freeman
3 years 9 months ago

I bought “sauces” too late. This time I’m ready. Bring it on!

Christa Crawford
3 years 9 months ago

I’d like to focus on actualizing my relationships with other people. It’s easy to spend so much time on buying grass-fed meat, cooking grass-fed meat, eating grass-fed meat, and moving my body. Sometimes, making time to socialize can be one of the most challenging aspects of this whole lifestyle. This is ironic, considering the high value and importance of meaningful relationships.

Madama Butterfry
Madama Butterfry
3 years 9 months ago
Same here Christa. I realised at xmas lunch (I invited two vegetarians (+1) without family) how good it was to share with people, to put my own ideas aside and get on with things. One friend didn’t budge even when I was doing the dishes in front of her, yet another did; there were things I could complain about, but in the end I’d rather have had them all there, sitting around and chatting about anything and everything from homosexuality to Scandanavian politics, even with the guy I didn’t know nor invite, than sit with my nuclear family and eat… Read more »
Christa Crawford
3 years 9 months ago

Ms. Butterfry,
Isn’t that the best? I love spending time with new friends and realizing that there’s more to life than talking about food. It’s refreshing! I’m so glad you had that experience. Wishing you more friendships like these in the new year.

Sharon
Sharon
3 years 9 months ago
I could not agree more! We get so busy with our To Do lists we forget to connect. As a married adult with no kids, I find it particularly hard to meet others outside of work. I sometimes feel like I’m racking my brain to think of different ways to meet people. If only finding friends was as easy as grade school or college! Or even dating! Finding friends at this point in my life has been the most difficult. I love my family and my close friends that live farther away, but I crave a few friends that I… Read more »
LB
LB
3 years 9 months ago

Go join a CrossFit box – you’ll make lots of new friends

Tyler
Tyler
3 years 9 months ago

Try http://www.meetup.com
Literally type your interests in and find people doing the same things you love to do!

Al Ferrell
Al Ferrell
3 years 9 months ago

I have pre ordered on amazon, so when your deal comes out, I need a way to capitalize.

Rob from NJ
Rob from NJ
3 years 9 months ago

Mark, is there any way of knowing when a nook version would become available? I requested this via the Barnes and Noble website but am curious if you have inside info. Thanks, Rob

Karma
3 years 9 months ago

I have got to get this new book. I can’t wait for it. 🙂

rob
rob
3 years 9 months ago

My goal for 2013 is to dig everything I eat out of the ground, worms grubs larvae the whole damned thing.

Adam
Adam
3 years 9 months ago

I am looking forward to this book!

Rachel
Rachel
3 years 9 months ago

Great post. Your new book looks promising!

George
George
3 years 9 months ago
Some good thoughts as usual by Mr. Sisson. We are destroying many animal and plant species on this planet and breeding at an unsustainable rate, creating a toxic world. I think we need to turn inwards and consider our genetic roots while working to preserve this jewel of a planet we were blessed with. Also, mankind needs to evolve socially and spiritually. As far as musings as to how early man did this and that, if you have a PhD in Anthropology and spent several years with an indigenous hunter gather people untouched by modern civilization, then you may have… Read more »
x
x
3 years 9 months ago

Great post, can’t wait to add to my food/fitness knowledge with lifestyle wisdom.
As for needing a PhD, we ARE early man and woman, just trust your own natural instincts.

Rachael
3 years 9 months ago

Love this post! Can’t wait to check out the new book.

David Sullivan
David Sullivan
3 years 9 months ago

I resolve not to eat 5,000+ calories a day in wild caught salmon, almonds, macadamia nuts, sardines, broccoli, peppers, cauliflower, apples, coconuts, anchovies, tomatoes, etc. I’ve lost weight, and continue to gain strength. Does anyone else have this problem?

Jim Bentz
Jim Bentz
3 years 9 months ago
Mark, you will remember and probably met George Sheehan. He used to quote Emerson, “First be a good animal.” We simply cannot ascend to self actualization without first achieving a semblance of optimal health. This is not to say to self actualize means to first be a World Class Ironman or sub 2:30 marathoner. The societal scalability of your approach is greatly enhanced by the reasonableness of your ask. It’s not extreme to eat 100 g of carbs in a day. It’s not extreme to walk 4-5 hours a week. Your not a wack job to suggest someone play once… Read more »
Khaled
3 years 9 months ago

If everyone did this, it would radically change the world…for the better of course.

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[…] Primal Actualization: Realizing Your Inner Potential […]

Ashleigh Townsend
3 years 9 months ago

This sounds like a great way to look at things. Really looking forward to the new book coming out.

Catherine
Catherine
3 years 9 months ago

I’ve already pre-ordered your book (Barnes and Nobel) and glad to hear that we will also be eligible for the bonuses. I wasn’t thinking about that, I just wanted the book as soon as it was available 😉

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[…] I’m sure they’ll whip up a vaccine for that one real […]

Lynne
Lynne
3 years 8 months ago

If I talk about food I become ravenous, so like you guys are great, have cut out the carbs, have made the move, but this can’t be my raison d’ete, no offense, I’m starving just reading these blogs, I’ purely a hurry up, it’s 2013, 2 mos down, lipo time and let’s move on.
How about writing comedy?

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3 years 8 months ago

[…] Primal Actualization: Realizing Your Inner Potential […]

Jacob
Jacob
3 years 8 months ago
I’ve actually had an actualization moment recently. About 4 days before Christmas break, my company told me that they were downgrading my position and were letting me go because I was way overqualified. With an 11 month old daughter and twins on the way, I was under a lot of stress and my initial response was to find another similar job. That was until I realized, I don’t want to be stuck behind a desk crunching numbers my entire life. I really want to help people get in better shape and feel better about themselves. So I’ve decided to study… Read more »
Chad
3 years 8 months ago

Great post, Mark. I think the new year is a great reminder to all of us to reflect on what’s working and what could be better. Sleep and play are definitely on my list. Life gets busy and I have found myself cutting corners in these two areas. So in 2013, I’m slowing down, and devoting myself to actualizing my relationship with sleep and making sure I find time to play.

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[…] life and others, how you deal with setbacks, and even whether you even like yourself at times. Mark Sisson reckons that actualizing your potential is a wide-ranging […]

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[…] vision board or a mindmap you did on a napkin three months ago, keep some written record of the outcome you want for your health. Cover the bases: the kind of fitness level you want, the kind of sleep you want, the kind of […]

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[…] for something means appreciating it, are we living in full appreciation of our health or are we taking it for granted, leaving many layers of experience and capacity unexplored – and thereby, […]

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[…] would it mean for the rest of life if you devoted a morning routine to your own interests? How would your relationships change if you began your day in ways that brought you joy and health? […]

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[…] we can decide it’s time to start feeling good again, time to get our strength and energy back, time to like how we look again, time to not feel limited […]

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[…] Many people assume this entails limiting the expression of their talents in a false modesty. Others just as unfortunately believe they should think of others’ needs but not their own. Still as wrong, some believe they shouldn’t try to make a mark with what they have &#…. […]

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[…] Many people assume this entails limiting the expression of their talents in a false modesty. Others just as unfortunately believe they should think of others’ needs but not their own. Still as wrong, some believe they shouldn’t try to make a mark with what they have to offer. […]

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