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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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June 05, 2014

Will You Make This Summer Your Best Summer Yet?

By Mark Sisson
52 Comments

Summer FunI’m not sure exactly why January gets all the hoopla here. When it comes to change, it seems like winter (all right, not here in Southern California) might be the most difficult time of year for some people to take on serious change. Sure, after the excess of the holiday season people are feeling penitent. They’re also perhaps ready to accept some quiet, “inward” time after the social overkill of the previous weeks. And, of course, it’s cultural sentiment to look back fondly on the year, clink the glasses at midnight and envision a beautiful, better year ahead – a vision that holds our collective attention for about a week. Well-intentioned as it is, New Year’s motivation is too often a flash in the pan. Maybe little wonder. The winter weeks that follow – truly brutal in some areas of the country – can be as inspiring as scraping your windshield. While I’m all for making change whenever (Isn’t it always a good idea, regardless of the calendar?), I wonder if there isn’t something backwards about this typical scenario. Personally, I get to June and sense that a certain energy and rare enthusiasm are accessible again (not to mention the inviting weather, longer days and fresh markets). You can literally see it in people. Who doesn’t know what I mean here (those of you with standard seasons at least)? Doesn’t this seem like the perfect time to imagine something new and ambitious for yourself? Part challenge, part resolution, part bucket list, part self-experiment? Humor me on this path for a bit….

When I lived in Maine decades ago, I always had the sense that the world woke up about now (blackflies aside). You saw your neighbors again (sans parka and shovel). Face it: you saw your own skin again. Literal and metaphorical layers were exuberantly shed. Community calendars were filled to the brim, competing for the limited supply of summer weekends. It’s an interesting mentality, especially for Northerners – something like carpe diem on steroids. I was thinking about the concept this week. How do we harness the energy (and opportunity) of the summer while resisting its more manic pressures?

Personally, I like to use summers to develop something new in my Primal life. It’s not about applying hard core discipline to reach a new level of strictness. In fact, it’s usually about loosening up. By choice and circumstance, I open to new possibilities I hadn’t considered before. Slowing down helps that, and for me summer is for slowing down more than ramping up. I dare say if you went back in the archives here you’d find that a lot of new dimensions to the Primal Blueprint made their first appearances in the summer months. Certainly, The Primal Connection came out of a couple summers’ worth of exploration.

So, here’s my thought….

What would it take to make this summer somehow the best ever – a new pinnacle for you? Seriously. A more fulfilling time, an experience that initiates a new chapter, a welcome if unexpected change? Sure, it smacks of that old Seinfeld theme, “the summer of George.” We laugh at the concept, but maybe in the back of our minds we’re kind of wondering, “why not?” Put aside any skepticism or any thought that this summer is already accounted for with work and family plans. Just brush that to the margins and hold the idea for a moment. What would it take?

I’m not talking really about a bucket list, which too easily becomes an inventory of “achievements” in the same way people talk about “doing” Paris or “bagging” Hong Kong. For a moment, take a step back from the generativity mindset that drives this strange bus of a culture we live in, and get in your Grok mind. What would leave your Primal self fully sated come Labor Day? What would make you feel meaningfully expanded and content in ways exceeding your summers in the past?

Beyond the realm of acquisition or (most kinds of) achievement, there’s unfiltered experience and undistracted connection – rarities in the modern world. Even experts stress that experiences are what offer us lasting joy, that memories are the “durable goods” of a life well lived. Will a boilerplate summer routine offer you much of that?

In true Primal fashion, I’m not suggesting living well means living large or that we need to upend every welcome custom of summer. Think back to your own positive memories of childhood summers. What comes to mind? A lot of it might seem mundane in adult retrospect, but what’s likely underlying it is a sense of natural ease, of unbridled freedom, of subtle ritual, of sensory keenness, of unfettered connection. Funny, these are exactly the layers of experience we lose touch with as adults, as we expend our energy attempting to manage our (or our kids’) experiences, record every meaningful moment on our phones (or encapsulate it for a Facebook status). Maybe we’re so tired, overworked or distracted, we seldom even get that far. Sometimes people work a whole summer waiting for a big vacation that barely registers past the ride home.

A bucket list can work the same – this restaurant, that park, this outdoor festival. We check off the experience but maybe don’t take much away from it. What if, instead of acting on our list like a collection of do-to items (however positive), we prioritized our own lens and let the places we go and things we do act on us? Have a list of what intrigues you, but go and do with the thought of coming away changed. Seek out what touches and transforms you on a personal, however simple or subtle level, and what makes the list just might change.

If you’ve been doing the diet and absorbing the fitness suggestions up until this point, resolve to jump in with both feet this season. Challenge yourself to appropriate it as a way of interacting with life and not just as an alternative meal plan. Use the concept of “Grok mind,” “Primal lens,” or whatever makes sense. Push your own envelope with self-experimentation – daily. Embrace the dirt, the wild, the reflection, the exertion, the quiet, the attentiveness. Master the art of doing nothing, live outside every possible moment (cajole your way to working from home?), seek out 15 minutes of pure silence (in your own head) every day, catalog the birds you see every month, go barefoot and look for sensory opportunities for your feet, lose any inhibition about baring your body (within legal limits) no matter what your size, grow something, spend an entire afternoon observing natural or manmade minutiae, get in the water, watch a dog in the water, let go of a grudge, sleep on the ground, people watch at the lake, do a weekly bonfire, cook something you catch, put your furniture outside, burn a message you have about yourself, watch the clouds at 2 o’clock on a Wednesday, build a fort, sit outside at night and listen to the bugs, get up for the sunrise and walk barefoot on the morning dew, create or record something that captures the thoughts you have when you break the routine this way.

What does this bring up for you? What ideas or interests come to mind? What could be different or uniquely Primal about this summer for you? Offer up your thoughts, and thanks for “journeying” with me today. Can we say it yet? Happy Summer, everyone.

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52 Comments on "Will You Make This Summer Your Best Summer Yet?"

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wildgrok
wildgrok
2 years 3 months ago

Primal Lens – sounds like “The Lensman Series” by EE Doc Smith 🙂

Julie
Julie
2 years 3 months ago

MY FAVORITE EVER!!!!!

C L Deards
2 years 3 months ago

I’m with you in that the treasures of life are memories not ‘things’. This summer I want to take my kids on hikes. They’re old enough now, and the baby can go in a Bob quite easily. I want to do easy, flat hikes. Let the kids mosey as kids like to do.

Slow hikes with good food are about as Grok as it gets.

Irene
Irene
2 years 3 months ago

Just daydreaming from my cubicle of a slow hike is relaxing me.

Nocona
Nocona
2 years 3 months ago

I love sitting in my backyard looking at the Milky Way…dreaming!

Zach rusk
2 years 3 months ago

I remember eating milky ways in my back yard…

Zach rusk
2 years 3 months ago

I remember eating milky ways in my back yard…
My adventure this summer though is going to Primalcon New York!

John Finn
2 years 3 months ago

I’m going to get in shape for a marathon, now this is motivation right here!

Irene
Irene
2 years 3 months ago

Wow, I love these ideas so far, I think I’ll take a trip to the art store and stock up on some paints for me and the kiddos to paint outside in the patio and let everyone paint what they observe in our in own backyard. Oh and of course we’ll be barefoot. Toe painting anyone?

Shaney
Shaney
2 years 3 months ago

I spent my childhood summers camping and seem to have done less and less as the years go by and I so miss it. You’re right, it’s not the big events I remember it’s standing in the middle of a treed campground. Dragging our damp airmattresses back through dusty paths. The sound of a good crackling fire. Even the smell of our old camp trailer. Sigh. Also, really need to organize a massive game of Red Rover!

Diane
Diane
2 years 3 months ago

I think this summer I might have the courage to go to the Greek dance lessons at the Greek festival, and if I actually learn how to dance, instead of watching the dancing I will do some dancing. I do NOT dance, never ever ever, so this might be a big deal. We’ll see what happens.

CM
CM
2 years 3 months ago

YOU BETTER DANCE GIRLFRIEND!!

Groktimus Primal
2 years 3 months ago

If I both survive with minimal trauma and derive tangible benefit from my sinus surgery this Summer I will have had a real “kick ass” Summer 🙂

Erica
2 years 3 months ago

Yes! When I was obese every New Years Resolution centered around “finally being able to enjoy the Florida summer” and not fell self-conscious in a bathing suit. Years rolled by and I never hit that resolution. Finally, I lost the 50 pounds and have been able to make every summer my best!

Michael Chekanski
Michael Chekanski
2 years 3 months ago

I’m off to Middlebury Vermont to study languages. Any PB users with experience of the program? I’m going to get my grok on in the mountains while absorbing another language.

Kelli
2 years 3 months ago

This spoke to me big time. For me, summer brings to mind running through the sprinklers, splashing through the gutters during a downpour, and spending hours at the pool. Apparently I need to find myself some water to play in this summer!

Thanks for the great words Mark!

jack lea mason
jack lea mason
2 years 3 months ago

Summer is for water sports and walking barefoot. As I child I would: body surf, surf, waterski, fish, spear fish, dig clams, catch crabs, have clambakes on the beach, go sailing. take inner tubes down rivers, jump from heights into deep water, eat sea pickle and sleep in a sandy bed. A sandy bed never bugged me as a child why should it now. I will get wet and sandy often this summer. You have inspired a goal to catch/spear, fillet, cook and eat dinner on the beach at least once before the next equinox.

della
2 years 3 months ago
Ha, a sandy bed always bothered me as a child! But, those barefoot days at the beach were the best. Campfires and forts and catching tadpoles, oh joy. This summer I am going to spend less time online, more time appreciating my kids. We still have ten at home, but they grow up so fast! We have already been swimming in the pool, had a few campfires, and put the climbing rope in the tree. We went to the park and spent all the live long day at the playground and riding scooters and bikes. This summer for me: lots… Read more »
Rick
Rick
2 years 3 months ago

I’m going to adopt the second oldest woman in the world method for a peak summer: I’m leaving it all (including this method) in God’s hands, it’s up to Him. Since I don’t really believe in God, I will drop even that.

AJSP
AJSP
2 years 3 months ago
I think the best summer of life is probably left back somewhere in my childhood years, but this summer is definitely shaping up to be one of the better one’s I’ve had in a while. I’ve finally been able to feel happy again after going through being separated and divorced the last two years. I feel healthier than I have in 10 years. I’ve really been enjoying doing group fitness workouts a couple times a week. I’ve been loving cooking and making healthy, real food. And I have new boyfriend who is four years younger than me thinks I’m beautiful.… Read more »
Jinnah
Jinnah
2 years 3 months ago
What a great post. Lots to chew on there… My family and I moved to Colorado at the end of last summer, and things were very hectic as we settled into our new place. But now that the move-in maelstrom has died down & as the days are growing warmer and longer, I look daily to the mountains and dream of hiking–the physical exertion, the delicious mountain air, the food cooked and enjoyed outside, the vast sky at night filled with stars. I believe in the restorative and life-affirming nature of summer, and your post has bolstered those notions. Time… Read more »
tongue in cheek
tongue in cheek
2 years 3 months ago

Sailing. This summer I will learn to harness the wind, like the vikings in loincloth… but with a jib.

Kristi Horine
Kristi Horine
2 years 3 months ago

About four weeks ago I cut back on my workouts and moved them to lunch time. Since then, instead of racing around in the evenings, I’ve been reading in my hammock, going for walks, working in the garden, trying new paleo recipes and getting more sleep. I feel like I’m on vacation every evening! I don’t know why it took me so long to make this change but it’s amazing. I thought having a good diet and plenty of exercise was enough, but this enjoying life business is where it’s at.

Hanna
Hanna
2 years 3 months ago
This so resonates with me! After 4 years of undergraduate study, years which were fulfilling but extremely busy, I feel like its time to “live a little” -slow down, make time to enjoy things… And, try eating paleo for the first time 🙂 I’m a boxer and haven’t wanted to try and make the full transition whilst competition season was on. But now its time. Just a question, do the more seasoned here think its a good idea to do a full on “whole30”? Or could I just eat paleo including some treats andwine and chocolate? I do want to… Read more »
Julie
Julie
2 years 3 months ago

I’m a whole30 dropout. It made me crazy. I became an obsessive idiot, ranting and raving when life got in the way of Whole30. If you’re trying to live a little and slow down, let Mark’s guidelines lead you there. Whole30 will always be there if you want to try it later on.

Julie
Julie
2 years 3 months ago

Is my comment awaiting moderation because I used the word “id–t”? I meant it toward myself. Let’s try again.

I’m a whole30 dropout. It made me crazy. I became a obsessive, ranting and raving when life got in the way of Whole30. If you’re trying to live a little and slow down, let Mark’s guidelines lead you there. Whole30 will always be there if you want to try it later on.

Stacie
Stacie
2 years 3 months ago

If you’re looking for answers/solutions to IBS and excema, I would recommend doing the Whole30. If you’re a cold-turkey type this should work well for you, and will help you get to the root of your symptoms. Remember it’s just 30 days (at least that’s what I kept reminding myself during my Whole30), and then you can slowly incorporate the things you miss to see how they affect you.

Best of luck!

2Rae
2Rae
2 years 3 months ago
If you want a slow result but an easy transition you can start removing and replacing things. I would suggest removing all processed foods along with grains. If you have to keep something in the grain department a lot of people use rice products to fill in the hole left. Little steps can work, as you feel better you can keep tweeking the food as you learn what your body seems to thrive on. Plus, if you have a family you can transition the whole menu with only little changes here and there, who’s gonna know that you cook with… Read more »
Shary
Shary
2 years 3 months ago
Paleo isn’t supposed to be a bad experience, but it can be pretty daunting if you try to do it all at once. Eliminating wheat should be the first item on your agenda since that is often the culprit in IBS, skin problems, and various other allergies. Try it for a couple of months. If results aren’t satisfactory, try adding dairy products to your elimination list. Keep in mind that going Paleo doesn’t need to happen overnight. Take your time with it and allow your body to adjust between stages. Actually, just the elimination of wheat alone is about 85… Read more »
Simone
Simone
2 years 3 months ago

If you start your Whole30 right now, you have most of July and August left to enjoy the summer a bit more loosely! As Stacie also said: it’s only 30 days. You are still used to it now, but you may not want to go back to restriction later. I would recommend a Whole30!

Julie
Julie
2 years 3 months ago

I think working backward from the goal is the way I will do this. How do I want to feel Labor Day, as you suggest. What will it take to feel that way? What experiences, habits, actions will support that goal? Where will my head be when I’m doing things? Will it be on “accomplishing” or “bagging” it? Or will it be “Wow, when I do X I feel this way and that’s a good/bad way to feel.

Too deep for words, I know.

CM
CM
2 years 3 months ago

Yes, finally, SUNSHINE! This last weekend, while I was barefoot in the yard, hanging laundry on the line after planting beautiful flowers in the yard, I noticed the birds chattering…it sounded so beautiful…I felt happy to be able to see and hear.

I’ve always hated New Years…never understood why we celebrate one year becoming the next when we should celebrate one day becoming the next.

Tassie
Tassie
2 years 3 months ago
To all you wonderful people on the other side of the world, do have a wonderful, inspiring and relaxing summer. Here (Tasmania Australia) right now there is a light frost outside. I am sitting near the wood fire which is crackling away watching the beautiful orange glow in the sky before the sun will rise in about half an hour. A cool but fine day is forecast for today like yesterday where my favourite moment was in the afternoon when I was doing fence repairs to try and keep the wallabies and kangaroos out of my flower plantation. I live… Read more »
Melinda
Melinda
2 years 3 months ago
The yellow tailed black cockatoos have just returned to the paddocks where I keep my horse after disappearing during fires a couple of years ago. Riding through the bush as evening approaches and the cold air of the night comes down, the cockies are raucous and wheel, arch and screech overhead; so glad to be alive and live where I can ‘touch’ the bush, or more accurately where the bush touches me. The cockies have such a commitment to having fun. They make me laugh outloud. I don’t believe in reincarnation, but if I did I would want to come… Read more »
Kirk
Kirk
2 years 3 months ago

Catalog the birds you see! Done and done! Currently, I’m looking for a big-breasted bed thrasher. I’ll keep the MDA community posted when I find one

Mark S
Mark S
2 years 3 months ago

Grow up.

Kirk
Kirk
2 years 3 months ago

No thanks! You can stay old and grumpy, but I won’t be growing up any time soon. Perhaps finding a big-breasted bed thrasher would alleviate your grumpiness. Best of luck to you, grumpy-pants Mark S

dotsyjmaher
dotsyjmaher
2 years 3 months ago

Wonderful!

jake
jake
2 years 3 months ago

as someone who lives in new england i couldn’t agree more with the sentiment of this post. every spring brings new life to the world and it always fills me with energy and the desire to do better in my life and make the most of this incredible period of time before we reenter the desolation that is winter. it sounds extreme but the winters up here take their toll and because of this i find myself enjoying the summer days that much more.

healthywings
healthywings
2 years 3 months ago

amazing amazing amazing stuff in this post!
“Master the art of doing nothing…” ahhhhhh

River
River
2 years 3 months ago

Just wanted to say…

I’ve been primal for 3 weeks now. I went primal because a lifestyle change meant that I needed a lot more energy than I had. I’d given up on weight loss, so just wanted to feel fit and healthy again. After 3 weeks, I’ve lost (without any effort AT ALL) 4 kg and feel amazing! People have commented that I look 10 years younger too.

Thanks Mark!

Debra
2 years 3 months ago

Today begins the year of playing hard. This week I’ll be hiking with llamas, attending a steampunk carnivale, taking a dance lesson, chalk art, weed pulling, and bike riding.

Pete
Pete
2 years 3 months ago
I get up before sunrise and drink a cup of coffee. I put on thin sole shoes and bring my rifle. I stalk through the woods and across the fields. I move slowly, with full attention to the now. I travel at sometimes as slow as half a mile per hour in varied terrain, I feel the scents in the air, the texture of the ground and the warmth of the sun (or perhaps the cool of the late summer rain). I listen to the life around me. If the goddess diana is with me I will sit down with… Read more »
Michele
2 years 3 months ago

Really want to embrace these ideas this summer, especially now that my kids are at the age of “memories”. Getting them into the outdoors will be a priority for the next few years. I don’t naturally think this way so it’s good for me to get other people’s ideas.

BFBVince
2 years 3 months ago

Enjoying breezy summer nights…walking, sitting, gazing

Krissarissa
Krissarissa
2 years 3 months ago
I accidentally started doing just this, on June 1st, even! I’ve been walking every morning at sunrise with my dog (and sometimes with my husband as well), going to bed early, cooking a TON of really amazing food, and I gave up my evening wine for the time being, as well. This summer pace is the best! I can’t go barefoot here (southern NM is covered in plants that want to stab you to death and everything sheds stickers/thorns) but I go minimal allll the time. I totally agree, something about summer is so much better for transforming experiences than… Read more »
Casey
Casey
2 years 3 months ago

I’m a homeschooling mom and we emptied our schedule for the summer so we can spend every day just playing. So far this has looked like 10-14 hours outside a day, playing in the backyard and neighborhood, inviting friends over to share meals (and play), and working in the garden. I LOVE this time of year. Eventually, we’ll get our kids to a river to canoe, but for now, we’re loving the relaxed nature of no obligations and lovely weather.

Tegan
Tegan
2 years 3 months ago

You’re absolutely right Mark. There is something magical about summertime. Thank you for this post : D

Kelda
2 years 3 months ago
I’ve just read this post parked in a motorway service station in our motorhome. We’ve just spent the last couple of weeks travelling back up to northern Scotland where we live having driven south some three weeks before for my son’s wedding in East Anglia. On our slow drive home we’ve stopped off at various nature reserves to watch, and list, the birds we see. Of all the places we’ve visited on the journey this activity has given us most pleasure. Just sitting quietly in bird hides with camera, binoculars and a bird book and working out what we have… Read more »
Brenda
Brenda
2 years 3 months ago
I live in Michigan and holy moly was it a brutal winter. I agree with you Mark…June seems like my January 1st. I feel like I just existed through the winter and now I am ready to start living again! I have joined a walking challenge for the month of June to walk 100 miles. So far I am right on track! I’m looking for new things to do outside such as trying Frisbee Golf and basically trying to spend more time outside finding new things to enjoy instead of staying cooped up in the house doing laundry and housework…I… Read more »
Perry
Perry
2 years 3 months ago

I recently happened upon MDA and feel very fortunate that it is summertime. It seems the perfect time to commence a primal way of life. I have three young ones at home and have truly enjoyed letting go of a strict workout schedule which always just stressed me out because I could never really do it. My boys love to play so we play. And eating this way is good for the entire family. I have so much more energy and rarely feel hungry. I am so happy to finally let go of grains!

Naomi
Naomi
2 years 3 months ago
I love this post, almost as much as I love summer! I know what would make this the best summer ever — the pinnacle for me — and that’s to make a bunch of new Primal friends. I want to start a Primal group in Topanga, CA, for everyone interested in the Paleo/Ancestral Health/Primal way of life, but I’m a bit technologically challenged and got stuck on the meetup site, hesitant to pay for a service that no one may find or read, not on FB, etc. But this site has readers galore! So if anyone sees this who lives… Read more »
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