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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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January 09 2013

10 Habits of Highly Successful Hunter-Gatherers

By Mark Sisson
112 Comments

10 HabitsWhat would it take to be a highly successful hunter-gatherer? Brawn? Speed? And good aim? Stamina? Carving skills? A sharp eye or memory? Of course. But what about those less obvious attributes like creativity, empathy, intuition, even-temper, mettle, compassion, coolheadedness? After all, all the strength in the world won’t match a good weapon in many situations. A lone wolf will always be more vulnerable on the savanna than his connected counterparts. An easygoing perspective can make living with others easier. Equanimity keeps emotional responses in check and critical focus in the present. Grit can mean the difference between life and death. If the hard knocks of evolutionary history cultivated these kinds of pivotal traits in our ancestors, how do we reconnect with – and benefit from – them today? What better (and even fun) self-development project can there be, after all, than fostering the habits of highly successful hunter-gatherers?

In addition to reconnecting with our natural environments, rhythms, and biomechanics, it’s impossible to discount the relevance of these more cognitive elements. Sure, it’s the stuff that can’t be nailed down. When it comes to our ancestors’ neurological trajectories, we have the likes of skull proportions and tool complexity to compare. Beyond that, the specifics get dicey. Grok and his kin left no diaries or personal blogs. The more intimate details of their lives will never be known, as much as we might like to imagine their stories. Nonetheless, we can extrapolate from the conditions in which we theorize our ancestors lived and then target what skills and perspectives those environments would’ve required or at least favored for survival. (The observations of traditional societies living today add to this picture in their own partial way, but that’s fodder for another discussion.)

The idea here isn’t an academic model. Yet, it’s not tongue-in-cheek either. What we’re after, of course, is a practical point of reference for the everyday person who wants to enjoy life for all the fulfillment, happiness, and peace that he or she can find in it. There’s something to speculating about Grok’s angle on life and what we can safely assume was a striking contrast to the modern mindset that too often breeds stress, disengagement, and impatience. What’s to be gained from the perspective of Grok, our resident highly successful hunter-gatherer? Consider his evolutionary context a touchstone we can use in life to gauge our own sense of balance. It’s a reminder to question cultural scripts in pursuit of something more timeless and fundamentally sensical. As a touchstone, it can help us imagine – design for ourselves really – an ancestrally-informed point of homeostasis we endeavor to thrive within each day.

This is the Primal purpose of the very first chapter of The Primal Connection. For those of you waiting for your copy to arrive (and for those who haven’t snagged a copy yet), consider it a brief taste for all that’s covered in chapter one.

Habit #3: Build a Tribe

Our ancestors depended upon a tight knit social circle. Their survival hinged upon it in fact. The band community of 25-50 people was forged within a sense of mutuality – action for the good of the group. It was more than simple transaction, larger than familial connection (not everyone was related). You became kin by being kin and sharing in the menial work, the ongoing stories, and the meaningful celebrations of the band.

In this day and age, we live in proximity to numbers that would’ve stunned our ancestors. We count our social media “friends” into the hundreds, but we often miss a sense of close, continual connection. Exposure doesn’t fill our social wells. Neither do status updates.

These days we can even go through our adult lives with few, if any, intimate relationships – the kind of connections that feel like kin – our own tribe. You’ve seen each other through transitions, successes, and disappointments. You have history and your own stories. The fact is, we haven’t outgrown or out-evolved the need for kin, however. We live with the same genes that benefited from social connection and the same biochemistry that rewards it. With frequent relocations and busy lives, connecting gets complicated. Too many of us end up socially adrift.

If you find yourself at this point in your life without a core group, build one. Don’t make the excuse that you just missed the boat. It’s just too important. You’ll be glad you didn’t later. Feed this “highly successful” habit by first deepening the relationships you already have. When you begin seeing your partner, family members, kids, and closer friends as your tribe, you gain a whole new level of appreciation for the role they play in your life. Reconnect with old friends, and test the waters to see if there’s potential there to become close again. Get out into the world, meet people, and make an invitation. Invite a coworker for lunch. Join a book group or basketball league. Start a volunteer team at your house of worship or place of work. Create a Meetup group. Host an open house for the neighbors. Over time, cultivate the relationships that seem most genuine and promising. Cultivate that mutuality in small but significant ways. Bring your best to the friendship and expect the same in return.

Habit #4: Be Present

We can all do a self-inventory now of the attention we give our phones or other technological devices. We can confess to ourselves how much we let residual work infiltrate our personal lives. Don’t forget what I think is one of our biggest trip-ups in modern living: the penchant for mental chatter. Truth be told, how much time do we spend caught up in replaying a conversation from the previous evening, imagining multiple stressful scenarios that might take place when we confront a certain person about x, y, and z, worrying about what other people think of our outfit or hair today? Let’s face it, our modern disconnect is rampant distraction.

Can you imagine if Grok walked across the savanna perpetually lost in thought about his latest wardrobe experiment? (As if he ever saw his reflection anyway…) He wouldn’t last long enough for it to matter. For our ancestors, life was an exercise in continual hypervigilance. Not every second, but close. It wasn’t just the risk of becoming another creature’s dinner either. Attentiveness also meant watching for weather, catching migratory patterns, and deciphering water sources – just to name a few examples.

The Primal Connection is to be found in giving the moment your full attention. It’s about minding the difference between thoughtful deliberation or reflection and so-called monkey brain. It’s about throwing off the strangling self-absorption we trap ourselves in every day standing in line with our phones or with our self-chatter. See the people, places, and possibilities in front of you. Feed this “highly successful” habit by observing your loved ones – all the changes and uniqueness that’s right there to be appreciated. Go on a walk with the goal of finding at least a dozen things you’ve never noticed. Use mindfulness check-ins to remind yourself to come down from the mental busyness and come back to center throughout the day.

Habit #8: Get Over It

As Michael E. McCullough, author of Beyond Revenge: The Evolution of the Forgiveness Instinct, explains, the ability to forgive is as much a result of natural selection as the impulse for revenge. Forgiveness, he suggests, likely evolved as a means of social cooperation. For our ancestors, life was about conservation – of energy, of resources, of good will. In a cost-benefit analysis, nursing an unrelenting grudge would’ve been a major liability. If you couldn’t get along with the group, eventually you likely wouldn’t have been welcome anymore. Be upset, sure. But once it starts eroding the group dynamic, you’d better find yourself another band. The risk wasn’t worth the emotional indulgence.

Although stewing ad nauseum today usually doesn’t present the critical threat of banishment, we still wallow to our own detriment. How much of ourselves do we tie up in the binds of past offenses or travails? How long will we allow ourselves to be stuck, and what are we missing out on in that time? At what point is it not even about the original sin anymore but our own circuitous, self-sustaining grief? The fact is, each day we let a past hurt, disappointment, or mistake determine our wellbeing, is a day we miss living full measure of ourselves and our potential for happiness.

A highly successful Grok type can do the (albeit modern) cost-benefit analysis and learn to let it go. What are the annoyances and resentments that we can simply release for more peace of mind? Feed the “highly successful habit” by cleaning the slate of past negativity. Use some kind of ritual if you feel it would be helpful to create a more genuine emotional closure. Keep an uncluttered emotional canvas by avoiding the minor, inconsequential conflicts that can build up for no good reason at home, among friends and family, or in the office. Learn to stop yourself when you go down that road of downer self-chatter. Cut the impending hormonal cascade in its tracks, and redirect your thoughts.

These are among the habits I call our inner dialogue – the assumptions, patterns, and narratives we can create or accept for ourselves. That dialogue has the power to limit or expand our lives. It will influence our potential to connect with the world and those around us. It will ultimately determine how successfully we live as modern hunter-gatherers but most importantly whether or not we will live the full measure of our Primal selves in this lifetime. Let me know your thoughts on living as a successful hunter-gatherer – and what you’ve gained from the other seven habits if you’re already delving into the book.

Thanks for reading today, everyone. If you haven’t picked up your copy of The Primal Connection, order yours today to learn the other seven habits of highly successful hunter-gatherers and take advantage of the release offer while it lasts!

Order The Primal Connection by Jan. 10 and Get Free Gifts!

The Primal Connection, the long-awaited sequel to The Primal Blueprint, is finally here! 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.

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. The central premise of The Primal Connection is that we can use the model of our ancestors to create not just a healthier physical 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 like to do for all of my book releases, I have something special put together for devoted Mark’s Daily Apple readers. I’m offering you some fantastic free gifts when you buy one or more copies by Thursday, Jan. 10, 11:59 pm PST. Read all the details here.

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112 thoughts on “10 Habits of Highly Successful Hunter-Gatherers”

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  1. It is really tough moving to a new city or state because you no longer have all of your friends and support network. When I moved to Delaware I knew almost no one so I did start my own meetup group for young professionals. It is now 8 months later and the group has already reached almost 300 people and we have 2 or 3 events every week.

    1. That’s awesome! I just moved to a small northern community and this is the first (of my many moves) that knowing one key person made ALL the difference. But my motto is often to put out there what i want to receive. It’s easy to sit back and wait for things/people to come to you but someone has to make the first move! My contribution this time was starting an open ocean swimming club! Good on ya!

      1. I love your motto, Melissa! It’s somewhat similar to my outlook on life. I might have to steal (oops! I mean borrow) it 😉 I’ve only been in Oregon for about 6 months now but creating a tribe has already helped to make it feel like home. Meeting all sorts of wonderful, genuine people was only possible because I made a promise to myself to be open and willing to any and all experiences I found myself creating.

    2. Someone just started up a “Primal” group here in the Detroit metro area and we had our first meeting last night. It was awesome to talk to a like-minded group who didn’t think you were nuts because you don’t eat bread or grains.

      1. Nice, I tried starting a Paleo group in Wilmington Delaware and only 10 people joined. When I tried to do an event no one showed up.

        1. keep trying wayne, don;t take it personally. Peoples lives are so packed it is hard to juggle it all. I have foudn logisitically it is better to hang with folks I live near even if they do not share my exact philosophies of lif. Because the proximitiy facilitates interactions.

        2. Hey wayne….go to the local pub after work.

          Plenty of folks happy to meet a new fella.
          At least that works here in Australia.

      2. I live in the metro Detroit area and would like to join your Primal group!

    3. For sure. Going to College has led me to find and even create a little tribe of my own at school where we do primal activities like lifting heavy things and sprinting, cooking, etc..

  2. This is a fascinating frame of reference–totally makes sense that Primal would apply to social and emotional life as well. If your physical health is good, you have good energy and like where you are in life, it seems like you can better focus on how to best apply yourself to helping loved ones, good work, and generally advancing “the tribe.” Really looking forward to your insights, Mark–the book has been ordered!

  3. I purchased the new book yesterday on kindle and started reading. Just while reading the introduction I made 3 simple changes to help my well-being. I changed the station on the TV to my favorite type of music, I took my dog outside for 15 minutes and crunched around on the snow to get some sun, and while I drank my tea I didn’t read or watch TV but just tasted it. Will read some more today.

    1. I just bought my book yesterday an the 21 day challenge I am preparing myself. I think it is very different and it will be a interesting journey! Maybe I can start a tribe! Te he he!

  4. Totally agree with the social support system thing…moved to AZ 3 yrs ago, went through a awful divorce from an unstable person who, with her family, was my only support system out here. So yeah, very important. Meet Up has helped me get in touch with others, as has volunteering at the Humane Society. Social fulfillment in turn helps me stay on track with eating right and exercise, and all those things together got me through my ex’s ridiculous nonsense. Life is pretty much a spiral: you can either spiral up by eating well, getting out and moving around, and surrounding yourself with good people, or you can spiral down by neglecting and isolating yourself. Great post.

    1. Well said! I also need to work on building my tribe and I’m hoping I can include more paleo peeps in it.

      What part of AZ are you in, Josh? There’s a paleo/primal Meet Up group I recently came across in Phoenix that does regular pot lucks…

  5. Habit #4 can really transform things.

    Long ago, I had my nose in my Blackberry quite a lot. That was when my daughter was very little. Thankfully, she was very vocal about getting me to stop. It was then that I decided my Blackberry would stay in my purse whenever I’m with her (no checks, no taking calls, no sending anything, no nothing). So glad I did that, because:

    1) The time we spend with our children is finite, especially the fleeting time they’re very little;

    2) It got me to where I am today. I’m just not that fascinated with my phone. I clued into the fact that email is rarely interesting. I set aside a time to tend to it each day and that’s that. (Did I mention it’s rarely interesting?)

    Habit #8 is key too. Working on it. Takes practice, but, like anything, the more we practice, the better we get. It helps a lot to realize that much of our negativity arises from our own self-creative narrative that’s not even accurate (and usually self-serving). We humans love making up fanciful, dramatic stories in which we’re the main character.

    🙂

  6. As you know Mark I am a pastor and I have found using the Bible for direction in life applications works well for me –anyone.

    But you do touch on habits that would benefit everyone– especially #8 (forgiveness). We must forgive and also forgive ourselves when we realize our wrongs and make amends.

    I believe many who follow the PB lifestyle come to a realization of just how healthy and energetic we were made to be! While we may not belive in the same things spiritually, we all share a physical makeup that responds to primal living.

    Mark– keep supplying the great material– and I finally received the Primal Fuel–just had some for lunch! Good stuff!

      1. Hey,come on Matthew! Dave’s post was not about religious views any more than Mark’s. I am not Christian and I hate having it shoved in my face. Dave did not do that. Far from it. I am a pagan, so Primal fits well with my beliefs. Are you going to slam me for saying that?

        1. I was actually thinking how well these adhered to buddhist principles of living in the moment, not dwelling on regret and shame, and forgiveness of oneself and others, but i decided to keep my “mouth” shut. well, i almost did…whoops. While i’m keeping personal beliefs out of the discussion, I won’t mention that buddhism has been around a wee-bit longer than christianity 😉

        2. Hey Pagan– glad you weren’t offended! Isn’t Mark the best? I mean the Primal Lifestyle is truly what I have bee “preaching” (sorry) for a few years now–when I came across MDA it was so well researched and thorough and I finally had a place to send people for answers to their nutritional questions.

        3. Several studies have shown that regular attendance of religious services is associated with increases in well-being. A key point, however, is that it doesn’t matter which religion is practiced, implying that the happiness boosts are more likely due to the social support network rather than the favor of any particular god/gods/spaghetti monsters. So regardless of any religious views, hopefully we can all agree that connecting with others is what really matters.

      2. How about, his statement of his views was meant more as a signpost than a club, and maybe he’ll inspire other Christians to give this Primal thing a try? You don’t speak for me. Thank you.

  7. Looking forward to my hardcover copy ordered yesterday.
    My 1st step after reading this morning’s MDA: Threw a blanket over the TV and called an old friend.

  8. Don’t forget pets! They offer the kind of uncomplicated, yet deeply felt, relationships that do a lot for our well-being… and ask so little in return.

    1. This is going to sound mean, but I believe pets are a cop out for people who don’t want to be alone or don’t want to pursue great friendships.

      I don’t believe Grok would have had a pet unless he was going to eat it later 🙂

      1. I could not agree with you less! Pets are a great way to socialize and get outside. Dogs in particular (even though i don’t have one) can be a great to break the ice at the dog park or just get outside for a walk/run. I have a cat and love that he’s home when i get back from work. He actually forces me to get off the laptop cause he literally sits on it. It’s not a substitute for human friendship and connection, but it can be a great addition to your life.

      2. For me, my cats are SO helpful from a ‘primal connection’ standpoint. If you’ve ever had cats, you’ll know that most of them aren’t nearly loyal and engaged enough to take the place of friendships, but when I’m stressed or sad, petting them and listening to them purr comforts me like nothing else can.

        There’s just something about being close to another creature who is peaceful and doesn’t have a care in the world. It sort of makes me realize that to them, my concerns and cares are completely alien and above them, and it helps me focus on just existing and living in the moment like they do every day.

        1. I feel you. Cats rock, even if they are remorseless serial killers that would eat you if they could.

      3. It doesn’t have to be either/or: either pets or people. A well-adjusted Grok can accept and welcome any good-natured animal to his tribe, both including both people and pets.

        1. Well, heck! You just said what I said (downstream), only you said it with a zillion fewer words & much more grace. LOL!

      4. It only takes reading a little anthropology to realized that the lives and evolution of humans and canines have been intertwined for millenia. The nature of pet ownership may have changed since paleolithic times, but empathy with dogs is part of what makes us modern humans. Sure, it’s not healthy to replace human companionship with canine companionship, but it’s also not healthy to ignore the benefits of pet ownership to individuals and families. Have you ever seen the eyes of a child or a senior citizen light up at the site of therapy dogs brought to give comfort to the sick, recovering, or dying?

      5. Goodness, you’ve probably set off a storm with this — of course, maybe this was your intention — but I’m fascinated by your supposition that those of us with pets are alone & isolated. This might have been your rather sad experience, but mine is that the pet lovers of my acquaintance (self included) have rich & rewarding social & family lives & that our interaction with other humans is actually deeply enhanced by our ability to be open and loving at every emotional level.

        For most of us, it’s not having to make a choice between people OR pets. We have big enough hearts, enough love & affection, & roomy enough lives to embrace both. Not just that, but it’s a known scientific fact that pets make us healthier on many levels. Besides, it’s also pretty well documented that Grok was the first dog owner.

        So chill out a little, Doug. Maybe head down to the nearest Humane Society & sign up for their dog-walking program. Not only will you be doing a good deed, you might just discover a secret we pet owners have known, like, forever: they just plain make you feel good!

        1. For most pet owners I know, pets are an “add on” to their social lives, not a replacement for normal interactions. It’s a +1 for them, in other words. 🙂

          However, in fairness to Doug, I have in social circle someone who simply cannot deal with normal human relationships and uses dogs as a substitute.

          She’s my MIL and last year, I kid you not, decided to spend last Christmas dog sitting rather than with her newborn grandchild. She’s got some problems and her dog fetish helps her cope/hide from them depending on your point of view.

          And Doug is also correct about scariness of food resources. Dogs were used for hunting and I could easily see uh, eating – if food supplies got really tight. Cats came along as pets when we needed some help to keep mice out of the grain storage. And also maybe as a backup food supply. 🙁 Starvation does have a way of changing relationships.

          So I’m about to come out like someone who can’t decide, but I think everyone is correct here in their assertions. 😉

        2. It is often recommended for people with depression an other illness to have pets cats too people they help you to relax and who else will be so happy every time they see you! Petting animals is very therapeutic and kisses are wonderful especially after a crappy day. We love our animals and our people though sometimes the two don’t mix but find a animal lover and they just get so gaga when they see your furry friend and that my friends is spreading the love and lifting someone’s day

      6. Nothing is either good or bad, only circumstance will make it so. So I would assume there would situations where what you are saying may be occurring, along with positive ones and everything in-between. I love that studies have shown that petting you’re own dog or cat produces the same chemical reaction in your body as a mother breast feeding their child. Seems a better option for people using synthetic means to feel happy.

      7. Remebering that it wasn’t modern day humans that started the domestication of animals. In Australian the aborigines bought their “pet” dingoes with them when they first came to Aus 40,000 years ago

      8. I am with you on the pet thing. People go nuts over their pets but let other people go hungry. I have pets but they are just that, pets. They are not a replacement for a person, if they make you happy, great, just don’t tell me how cute your dog is or what cool thing they did or expect me to be happy when it demands my attention.

      9. How on earth did we domesticate dogs before we developed farming, then?

        Dogs are social animals. You don’t gain their trust by using them as meaningless tools.

    2. I’ve actually put my cat on the primal diet along with myself(actually my diet is significantly more strict than the primal diet for the time being because I have candidiasis). I regularly feed him raw organic local meat with demi-glace that I make myself, and whatever suitable veggies I have around, as well as nutritional yeast. WHen I feed him store bought food it’s only the highest qaulity organic wet food I can find.

        1. Mice don’t just eat grain.

          Also, there are psychological benefits to taking care of someone, even if that someone has four legs and meows.

  9. As a yoga instructor i can’t tell you how much #4 Being In The Present, means to me! Mind chatter is at it’s all time high in our western society and there are few chances in our busy culture to slow down and grasp mindfulness. It just so happens you don’t have to be a yogi to practice this discipline.

    “When you wash the rice, wash the rice.” -Zen saying

  10. Great post! I like the habit of forming a tribe. I’m trying to start an ancestral health student organization at my college, and hopefully I’ll get enough interest for that to be a tribe! Life is so much more fun when you have a group of people you know you can always count on.

    I also liked how you related ‘living in the present’ to Grok’s life. It’s something we’re always told to do, but thinking about it as a mater of survival really gives me a new perspective. Paying attention to the present is so hard, and definitely something I need to work on!

  11. I enjoy reading Mark’s Daily Apple. Being a follower of Jesus Christ, I am amazed at the many correlations of Mark’s comments and God’s Biblical truth.

    These 3 points are all found in the Bible. And as Pastor Dave pointed out – forgiveness is the BIGGIE!

    While I can’t agree on the ‘reason why’ with Mark sometimes, it is neat to see how God’s truths are abundantly clear in His creation.

    1. Personally, I think people are wrong to take the Genesis account of creation literally. If you pay attention to the order in which things appear, you find that they pretty much map to the order in which things develop in evolutionary theory. And nothing in evolutionary theory says that a God couldn’t have set it all in motion–because science can’t speak to the existence of God at all, nor can it prove a negative (absence of God’s existence). There is room to believe in the Christian God and still believe that humanity has been around a very long time and spent more time being Primal than being farmers.

      There are certainly clues in the Biblical accounts that God favored the Primal lifestyle over the farmer lifestyle, from the conflict between Cain and Abel on down through human history (the written part).

      But it’s all in how much faith one has in God over the fallible writers of human books. Which, at the end of the day, even the Bible is a set of human books–and I remember from my Baptist days how they said Jesus, not the Bible, was the actual Word of God.

      Your mileage may vary, of course, and probably does. I’m agnostic these days so it really doesn’t matter to me; I just hate seeing people ignoring evidence right in front of their eyes. Far as I know, no book of the Bible, canon OR apocryphal, states that Satan ever created anything. So if it’s here, God made it, and we’re meant to learn about it. *shrug*

  12. I am really liking the direction that this book is taking people on. Although i LOVE talking food, nutrition and exercise, I often found, especially with the “success” stories, that they were based too much on how people looked. Not always, but often, there was a focus on the aesthetic results of the lifestyle. So i’m digging this thread and concepts behind the book.
    Also, I recently went to a small retreat wedding of friends that I had only known about 8 months. I was talking to the bride’s dad about how surprised I was that they invited me. His reply was: “Water is thicker than blood. Since T&R moved back home, they have made a concerted effort to focus energy and time on people they want to be around, longterm, as opposed to people they could easily fall back into (e.g., friends from high school). They made very specific choices with the invite list to the wedding. It was completely intentional.”
    Well of course, this made me teary, but living very far from my family, I totally get it. I feel very lucky to have two tribes actually…one in my ‘home’ and one where i am currently located for work. Very lucky.

    1. I appreciate this comment. I used to be a poster child for the Crossfit/paleo lifestyle: low body fat, muscled like crazy, strong and with great endurance and energy. Then I got Lyme disease and had two major operations and went down for the count. My triumphs—my PBs—today don’t have reps, time, or any other of those old markers. But I have developed an incredible tribe, and I am practicing grace in seeing myself as an elder.

      Pea

      1. I came here through Crossfit. I have to admit I’ve always been bit reluctant about the intensity of the group. It’s understandable, but I personally don’t want to be an “elite athlete”. I want look 1/2 decent in clothes, be able have fun and work on the house, and avoid being a cripple when I get old. If I can do the “Puppy” workouts when I’m 50, I’ll be an elite athlete compared to my age group anyway. There are more important things than pounding out the WOD.

      2. yup. well i think sometimes we have to go to extremes and back to realize that we actually prefer sitting somewhere in the middle! i’ve been through that on several fronts in my life. having said all this, i’m not gonna say that i was (am?) hoping that adopting this lifestyle might mean finally getting rid of the little fat on my stomach. but i have also noticed that i’m letting go of that and seeing the big picture already. mainly, that i feel SO much better living this way (esp because i had severe colitis not that long ago) and that i love feeling strong! i have a 6 pack, but it’s under a little layer of fat that is called “living”. i’m ok with that and starting to be more accepting of myself.

  13. If you want to learn how to forgive and forget, observe a group of seven year old children. I teach second grade, and I’m always impressed by how swiftly and completely kids are able to forgive. It’s not unusual for two kids to be furious with each other and then get over it within minutes. After a little arguing, a genuine apology, and a hug, they’re best friends again. I know I could learn something from them.

    1. Surely you already have Christie, your comments are always radiant. : )

  14. We bought the new book last night Mark, AWESOME !!!!, I’ve read three chapters already my only question is this. Have we met before, cause you must have been writing about me in the first section. 🙂 I am looking forward to reading the rest of it, I encourage everyone who reads this post to get a copy TODAY !!!!

  15. The ability to be a good hunbter-gatherer takes living as one. That’s what I do – off and on since the age of 7, but now I have lived in the forest for a decade. I hunt and trap all legal edible animals, and fish clean waters. Our family has lived off of this and wild edibles alone just to adapt to it and prove we could do it. We are also involved with local organic farmers (Joe Salatin types with cattle, sheep, goats, chickens, hogs, turkeys). We share our experiences with them and work with them, and they are our best friends and our community. We hunt and gather at their farms (which maintain abundant nature habitats on-farm) and share the goodies, knowledge and experience. We have become good at hunting and gathering. Why? Practice and becoming in tune with nature. Nature’s abundance is not understood until you go through the process, and it takes years. All of your senses become heightened; your abilty to track animals, read the signs in the weather and seasons, how the animals react to them, how wild edibles react to the weather. We live remotely, very close to abundant pristine national forest, but amongst people (other than the organic farmers) who don’t participate in nature much. As a resul they don’t see the forest through the trees and do not experience nature’s abundance. They ask us how we can have the energy to be in nature so much. They don’t get it. It gives you health and energy, and it provides abundance (in time, with learning). Of course we don’t share many discoveries with them. People are already following us to find jackpot spots for wild mushrooms, etc.

  16. Grok and roll, Mark!

    It’s funny… no matter how hard you try to transcend things like the need for social status, resources, etc., it’s just SO freaking hard wired into our DNA to release those “feel good” chemicals from certain actions.

    When I make a sale of my digital product I INSTANTLY feel a testosterone boost (fair enough, I haven’t measured it). I’m instantly more social, gregarious and on the lookout for Grokettes. The converse is also true.

    Or when I go to train BJJ with my homies and get some socialization in, I feel suddenly evened out. Oh, evolution…

  17. I started the book last night and am loving it! Thank you so much for going beyond diet and exercise!
    Now I have a logical reason to get my hands dirty and just stand with my face up to the sun. (Although not having a logical reason never stopped me before!)

  18. David Marino Thank you thank you I very much needed to be reminded of my intent of a year ago to be in touch with nature every single day, not just go outside but smell it, listen to it, feel it, and look beyond what my eyes see. Thanks

  19. Thanks for this wonderful post. I’m working on all of the habits – a work in progress, you might say. I’ve discovered that for #4, I need to spend very little time on the Net and/or in controlled ways. I just can’t cope with being so connected all the time. You’re one of my very selected blogs. Thanks again for this great resource. 🙂

  20. This is all good stuff, but what do you do when someone really screws you? How do you let that go?

    I got fired from a job because I would not be dishonest. No warning, nothing. I had $800.00 in the bank and an old car to my name.

    I lived in that car for a month, waiting for unemployment to start. I’m living with someone now, but my unemployment is ending.

    Still have not been able to find gainful employment.

    How can I STOP the thoughts of HATE I have for that slimy, dis-hones M***** FU**** that fired me and put me in the street?

    I know I have to stop, but it’s been over a year now and that anger comes back, at least for a moment, every damned day.

    Any advice is appreciated. Thank you

    1. I have many thoughts, all of them free. 😉

      1. Working for that slimy employer would have been h*ll on earth. Let’s say you were dishonest and still have a job. Would whatever money you received would have been poor compensation for working 40 hours a week for a dishonest man/woman who probably would have stiffed you anyway. Accepting that means you’ve actually gotten a year of your life (and your soul left in tack, if that speaks to you). You’ve also made it back from absolute zero — most people are too scared that they’ll get there to really live. Your ex-employer gave you the opportunity to find how what you’re made of.

      2.You may have been just starting out, but how did you get to a point where you only had $800 to your name and no other resources? Life happens, certainly, but it was not your ex-employer’s fault that you got there. You probably bear some responsibility for your life situation then and now — accepting it allows you to release some of that anger.

      3. No one owes you a job. Be grateful for the work you did have. When you approach any possible employment situation, thank the interviewer profusely for the opportunity and ask if there’s anything you can do to improve your chances for this or any job. Genuine gratitude and enthusiasm for work is amazingly hard for employers to find, even in a recession.

      4. Hate is not the opposite of love. Indifference is the opposite of love. Every time you start to call him/her a name in your head, tell yourself that too much of your life energy is being bound up in a negative force/person you don’t wish to waste your precious time on Earth with. Wish him/her well every time it happens(seriously – dishonest people lead miserable lives, even if they have money in the bank) and replace the thought with whatever practical steps you need to get hired again (studying, job training, simply making the rounds for potential employers). Stay focused on finding an awesome job (not just any.) The best revenge really is living well.

      5. And be patient with the process. If your anger has mostly faded, it won’t be too much longer before it’s gone entirely. I can’t tell you how often I’ve fallen of the wagon at various points in my life, but persistence does pay. 🙂

    2. A similar thing happened to my bro-in-law, two weeks after the complicated birth of his second child. He was fired by his ‘best’ friend for ‘being disloyal’ which was a warped figment of interpretation. Single income family, big mortgage;
      Bro-in-law was utterly twisted with bitterness- the friend was even his best man- but as everyone said, the responsible party would be visited by karma so focus on getting more work and wait to hear what happens.
      Around three months later his sh*t hit the fan in so many ways, fired, sued and bankrupted… and Bro-in-law now owns his own successful business which he’d NEVER have done had he not been fired.
      Keep looking for the positive and be patient man. It’ll most certainly arrive sooner or later.

  21. I’m all for “getting along.” But Grokette also wouldn’t have survived if she hadn’t identified people who were dangerous, and avoided them.
    We are frequently exhorted to forgive, but that “virtue” serves the hierarchy better than it serves an egalitarian band. Think who benefits when you “forgive” abuse: the abuser. He can hit you again, and you’ll forgive him again. He can totally dominate you.

    Religions arose with states, after the tribe, or hunter-gatherer lifestyle, was destroyed. And it’s religions–Buddhism and Christianity in particular–that are always exhorting us to forgive. This benefits the state, by causing us to overlook violence, oppression, and abuse.

    The Australian bush people often change bands during their life times. Their bands are constantly shifting. People leave, join other bands, and sometimes come back. This is a more natural and egalitarian pattern than the idea that one must tolerate and forgive bad behavior in others. I think it more likely that when someone feared a person in her band, she moved on to another band.

    In my own “tribe” or close-knit neighborhood, there are men whom I have had to avoid for extended periods of time because they behaved in a threatening manner toward me. Most of the time things get patched up eventually. This is not the same as forgiveness: I have not forgotten the bad behavior, and at any sign of it, I will begin avoiding them again. They know that.

    1. forgiveness does not mean you have to keep that person in your life. you can forgive someone and still cut them off from future contact, as well as have them held legally accountable for their abuse. you can forgive someone because they are the suffering ones. “hurt people hurt people”. they are suffering through life with their own greed, hatred and/or delusion. we can learn to forgive them for that, but it does not mean we have to be the ones also suffering because of their actions. Some actions may not be forgivable, but the actors certainly can be.

      1. Agreed. Forgiveness is not allowing the abuser to continue abusing. Real forgiveness is taking action to give yourself a healthy life (including pursuing justice if appropriate) and then releasing the anger. Forgiveness is much more about the self then the other.

  22. Rich – Don’t get mad – get even! can be fun and very satisfying (not to mention a cause for hilarity later!) Sorry Mark – as you can tell my copy of the book is still in the mail

  23. Sometimes you don’t even have to actually carry out the getting even bit, just imagining ever more extreme acts of revenge can be quite calming as you dissolve into laughter picturing the results

  24. Just wanted to say this is really well-written. Had a few ‘aha!’ moments when you’ve caught a sentiment perfectly in a sentence. Inspiring!

  25. My opinion is that the person who f-ed up has to ASK FORGIVENESS before we can forgive them. OK, sometimes they don’t ask in so many words, but we as humans know when other humans are making (as marriage guru / genius John Gottsman calls them) “repair attempts.” One is completely justified in ostracizing those who have f-ed up. Read Monty Roberts’ “The Man Who Listens to Horses.” HORSES ostracize, man! And only when the “ostracise-ee” makes certain gestures (snuffing the ground, masticating) are they allowed back into the herd. We NEED to ostracize (and BE ostracized) when screw ups occur.

    1. Forgiveness is a gift you give to yourself not the person who wronged you. It allows you to release the bondage they have placed on you; it allows you to release the anger, hate, and bitterness freeing up that part of your soul making room for love, joy, and peace. I’ve forgiven a couple of people in my heart, never saying it to them directly; and it’s a truly a liberating experience, even though it does take time to be fully realized.

  26. Mark- I am currently living and working in Afghanistan. The PB was the first book that I put on my Kindle when I came over here 14+ months ago. I have since read several books on the Primal/Paleo subject and have lost 50+ lbs. The Primal Connection should be waiting for me when I get back to the States, (can’t wait). I also can not wait to start applying/imposing my new lifestyle on my entire family, wife and boys, 6,6,and 13. Any tips on transitioning the so far non-primal. Thanks!!

  27. Gosh, twist my arm a little, why don’t ya! My “monkey brain” needs some more stuff to stew over during my morning walk to work.

    This is exactly the kind of stuff I’m focused on right now. With my husband at basic training, I’ve realized how important my face-to-face, daily-life social network is.

    The beautiful thing I discovered is that if you reach out to people, they will respond.

  28. Its about time>>>>”GROW” Tribe…we all can do it till we become dust>>>I am continuing to “GROW”…good,bad,indifferent,,,all have bits of wood for your mind to burn and illuminate whilst doing so….SO GROW..Its about who and what we are…AND WHAT WE CAN DO>>>

  29. WOW, I’m looking forward to getting my copy of the book. What is amazing is that I’ve been thinking of getting a Primal group started here in North East California. This is just the extra motivation. Thanks Mark and all the other posters.

  30. Habit No 8, “getting over it” can be helped with the right tools. Telling yourself to “get over it” or “stop having negative thoughts” doesn’t do it for most people, adds to the stress. Something that does work is TRE, Trension Release Exercises as developed by David Berceli. Based on his observations in war-torn countries,wanting to help people recover from trauma, he has developed these simple exercises and they work! they are not just for trauma, but also for the stresses everyone faces in life, such as being stuck in traffic, watching sad news, having an argument with a loved one etc. I would recommend seeking out a workshop and making it part of a primal lifestyle. Then habit No 8 will become second nature, actually being able to stay present No 4 habit, will be a lot easier as well, as will habit no 3, when you feel happier, people will be drawn to you, and your tribe will function better as your inner happiness rubs off on them. Hey, I think you should rewrite your book and put TRE as the number one primal habit for todays grok, for all we know our ancestors did.

  31. Disagree, people are by far more dangerous than beneficial. Alone is good. Or maybe just one good soulmate, like my wife and our immediate families when required…

  32. I have to admit that I wasn’t excited about this book. I purchased it only to support Mark and his message, plus I think he’s an awesome writer and human being. But after this excerpt I’m very excited to read it. Thanks Mark, love your work!

  33. albuquerque’s library has ordered 5 copies and i am the first on their list to read one when it arrives. i am so happy… looking forward to it.

  34. I am pretty sure that regardless of what Grok brought to the table, if he were similar to the self maximizing preference seekers of todays society, he would probably been ejected from the tribe.
    Humans are not selfish, by nature. The entire structure of this current phase we are going through is a reverse of our origins.