How a Primal Lifestyle Can Help You Find Your Passion

How a Primal Lifestyle Can Help You Find Your Passion FinalI saw someone wearing a t-shirt the other day that read “Do More of What You Love.” It was a simple message but a welcome shift from the deluge of difficult news and negative media we’re often met with. I wasn’t in a hurry that day and let my mind wander with it while I waited for a friend. The fact is, over the years I’ve managed to revamp my life in such a way that I am indeed doing more of what I love. It’s taken time, but I’ve combined what I should do to take care of myself with what I enjoy doing. Trading hours of training each day for beach sprints, surfing and Ultimate has been a part of that. But so has taking more time to be in community and to write. I’m in a profession now that I find fulfilling, and I pursue a whole range of hobbies that bring me a good share of joy in addition to well-being. Going Primal rebuilt my health, but it’s also transformed my life and helped me stumble into passions I didn’t realize I had. Beyond being in the business itself, however, I think there’s truly something to just living the Primal way that’s conducive to discovering what you love.

There’s something ironic to all this of course. Grok and his kin didn’t have all the opportunities we do—not in the incredible span of possibility available to us anyway. The priority was survival, and a lot of time and energy were invested in that most basic of pursuits.

And yet…

Grok wasn’t funneled into a minute specialization from an early age or expected to work a 40-80 hour work week on top of a long commute. The guy had a fair amount of leisure and choices in the very rough and rudimentary scheme of things.

On the other hand, many people today lead lives of flatness or even despair in which they take paths dictated by cultural or familial expectation—or by the pursuit of money over passion. They go whole decades of life never asking what they’d rather be doing, and those frustrated inclinations end up coming out sideways in a midlife crisis or just a subtle resentment that smolders each day.

Some might scoff and mutter, “first world problems,” but I’d argue it’s a natural human instinct to want more in terms of actualization. Human evolution didn’t stagnate after all. Our ancestors were curious and ambitious, and we should be grateful for it.

Rather than minimize the inner call for passion and purpose, I think it makes sense to go with it. While we may be searching within a framework bigger and vaguer compared to the clearly defined communal goals of Grok and his kin, we don’t need to get lost in the “burden” of choice.

So, how can a Primal lens help us discover and go after our passions? Here are some thoughts…

Primal living brings us back to the basics

For me, this is what The Primal Connection was all about. What are the fundamental human inclinations and genetic expectations beyond mere survival? What have tens of thousands of years selected for by way of physiological impetus and reward? The answer: living in and contributing to community. Having a family or supporting the younger generations. Giving of oneself altruistically. Communing with the natural world. Telling stories. Passing on traditions. Pushing our physical limits for euphoric enjoyment and healthy competition. Engaging in creative pursuit. Making music. Dancing. Honoring seasonal shifts and life passages through communal ritual and ceremony.

There’s something about going Primal that separates the modern, manufactured priorities from the essential, timeless pursuits. At its best, living primally teaches us how to live more deeply in our humanity. It roots our lives in the richest elements of life’s original design—elements that are accessible to everyone.

Bring an inner barometer to these fundamental pastimes. Then compare them to keeping up with the Joneses and living a life that follow theirs in lockstep. What inspires you more?

It comes down to this question: what have you done for your Primal mind lately? If all the modern trappings fell away from your life and you found yourself in Grok’s shoes one day, what would you gravitate to? Who would you be? Do more of that in your life today.

Primal living encourages experimentation

There’s no failure, only feedback, as they say. Human evolution was one long chain of trial and error. (Luckily, our stakes aren’t typically as high.)

What would it mean to take up the banjo? To go back to painting? To try your hand at sailing? To join a hockey league? To travel to Antarctica? Embrace your Primal sense of adventure, and see what happens.

Primal living means we’ve upped the ante

What about our lifestyle choices isn’t working for us anymore? For a while, it was enough to ask this question about food and exercise. But the inquiry seldom ends there.

When we realize we enjoy feeling good, it’s pretty natural to set your sights higher. Once healthy is checked off, how about fulfilled? Self-investment takes on new dimensions. Limitations aren’t set in stone. We have a bigger sense of what’s possible for us—and the courage to ask what needs to change in our lives and environments for us to live the life that really serves us.

Primal living means we have more energy and enthusiasm to work with

I know a lot of people who talk about the toll their sub-optimal physical health took on their mental well-being. The fatigue meant they were stuck in getting through the day, in conserving their energy just to get by.

As they reclaimed their health, their energy skyrocketed, as did their enthusiasm for life. They took on new physical goals and pursuits. Vacations became active. Time at home with the kids meant everyone played—including them. They flourished as a result and took up new hobbies that reflected their desire for good health and a great time with the people they love.

Primal living means we take responsibility for our own happiness—and for learning what this means for us as individuals

The space between people’s visions and their actual lives is often measured in excuses. To go Primal even in the circumscribed physical sense, however, obliges us to cut through the crap. How much do we want our health after all?

The thing about the Primal Blueprint is that it’s a loose template rather than a mindless plan. The principles are there, but nothing is handed to you. You create it. You customize it. You decide what it needs to look like for you to follow it.

Not everyone takes this much responsibility for their health. It becomes a practice of both integrity and self-discovery.

What kind of exercise are you motivated to do? What daily movement inspires your commitment? What outdoor activities excite you? What kind of balance and routine do you need in your day to make sure the truly important things get done? When you’ve opened up your life by giving up the old time-wasters, what do you start dreaming about doing? What incites euphoria? What gives you something to look forward to? To paraphrase some famous words, what have you decided you will do with this, your one Primal life?

Thanks for reading, everyone. Have you found your passion through Primal living—or are you enjoying the ride as you experiment and move into new territory? Share your thoughts on the board, and have a great end to your week.

Prefer listening to reading? Get an audio recording of this blog post, and subscribe to the Primal Blueprint Podcast on iTunes for instant access to all past, present and future episodes here.

About the Author

Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.

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40 thoughts on “How a Primal Lifestyle Can Help You Find Your Passion”

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  1. Just what I needed to read today. I thought about what you said about looking at your life and if it isn’t healthy, do something, and I did. I work for Ken Korg’s IT department: long hours, long commute, high stress. In a few more weeks I’m retiring younger than I planned so I can live more frugally and more healthily. (Good health is part of one’s retirement savings too!) Thanks for the good ideas for starting a new life!

  2. Primal living definitely instills a feeling of empowerment. When you’re strong and healthy, regardless of your age, you feel like you can handle any challenge. All the usual stressors just fall by the wayside.

  3. Yeah it’s helped me find my passion. I’m taking a nutrition course out at my community college not that it does much good because they still teach conventional wisdom, but it gives me a basis for my argument against the CW. I’m writing a book about health and nutrition and I need to have a good understanding in conventional nutrition to combat it in my book. Despite the people who have already shed light on the subject like Weston Price, Robert Atkins, Mark Sisson, Loren Cordain, David Perlmutter etc. I still think not enough people know about the dangers of high carb diets.

    1. Some people do not feel that a high carb diet is a issue. This is why there will always be opposing. Some people believe high fat is the issue.

      1. And for some people high fat may be a problem. There is no optimal diet for everyone. If there is carb intolerance, there must be fat intolerance. The hell of it is that some people probably have both and they will have to rely on alcohol the fourth nutrient. Protein, fat, carbohydrates and alcohol are the four macro nutrients.

        As William Blake said, “One law for the lion and the lamb is tyranny.”

        Misstress Minger has a couple of pages devoted to differences in _DbFP_ noting that there are far more and more in the rest of the text.

  4. This certainly rings true to me! When you’re sick, miserable. and exhausted, it makes it pretty hard to be passionate about anything. Getting on the right track with my eating and lifestyle is what made all the difference in being able to achieve that natural zest for life and my passions again. 😀

  5. I think the incorporation of “play” you mention is very important. When you look at the world as an object of play, then you’ll find that natural creativity, curiosity and passion will come through much more easily.

  6. I think taking charge for one’s individual happiness is a huge part of this. I assume many of the people here on the blog are in that boat. You kind of have to be if you’re going to adhere to a more fringe diet/lifestyle to get better. And when you do take that personal responsibility, there’s really nothing more empowering.

  7. So well put, Mark!! This kind of info is what I loved about Primal Connection.

  8. “There’s no failure, only feedback.” I like that attitude. So instead of wallowing at a midlife crisis exclaiming, “My life is a failure,” maybe you could cry out, “My life is only feedback!” 😛 But really, great article!

    1. I have inscribed on the back of all of my apple devices, “The only failure, is the failure to try.” Love it!

  9. Such a great post! I have found myself growing spiritually which is really cool and has truly helped me through some difficult situations. I have always been a pretty positive person, but feel I have really learned to see the good in everyone. I’ve become more friendly and outgoing with everyone I come into contact with. And because I feel so good mentally, emotionally and physically, I pushed past my fears and started a blog, so that I could share my enthusiasm with anyone else that wants to feel happy, healthy and hot!

  10. I’m not much of a gym rat, my play is my exercise, mostly bowling and roller skating.
    I feel good that I can still do them often at 53.

  11. My movement now include sprints, which I have fallen in love with. Group yoga for flexibility in a community setting. 3 on 3 basketball with my co-workers for play. Long distance cycling which is also very social in a group ride. My gym workouts have a heavy element of weight lifting for strength and structure and a moderate cardio element. This is a complete swap of focus before Primal. I still do distance swimming, but cold salt water pools only – also another change.

    This plus the eating style and all of the other points has improved my mood and energy. I am less temperamental and intense. Much more adaptable and flexible in my approach to life.

  12. I have a collection of email signatures

    Today I am adding a new one:

    “The space between people’s visions and their actual lives is often measured in excuses”

    1. “The space between people’s visions and their actual lives is often measured in excuses”

      I love this too! It took me a long time, but finding this way of life has suddenly made that distinction very clear. I’m turning the big five-oh this year, and I am finally living my life the way I see it in my visions… better late than never!

  13. Such a wonderful post. After years helping others, congratulations Mark on doing more of what you love.
    After being one of those people; seeing how adopting a Primal lifestyle improved my life, healed my family, and helped my friends I feel in love with working with others to put them back in charge of their health and well-being. I was inspired to work with Duke’s integrative health coach program and here I am now, building a business I love, supporting people who are frustrated with their weight and ill health and tired of working with a health care industry that doesn’t have time or resources to care for each individual the way they need.

    Oh, and I’d love to dance. Once I start running my business rather than having it run me I’ll start taking classes again. Nothing is more expressive for me than movement and music.

  14. Yes to integrating what you love doing and what you do to take care of yourself! That has such a tremendous impact on whole body-mind health and quality of life.

    And Yes to living a primal lifestyle full of integrity, curiosity and self-discovery!

    Both in myself and when working with clients, I find this organically leads to a more connected life. By “connected,” I mean connected and in touch with true passions, true needs, self and others.

    Beautiful post, Mark!

  15. Primal living to me is the ability to reject convenience and embrace simplicity. I rarely eat out because the primal meals I make at home are healthier and one third the cost. There was a time when I thought “living” was lounging poolside with a cocktail at an expensive resort. Now beach camping, a hike to a secluded waterfall or foraging for wild mushrooms is a much more fulfilling way to spend life moments. We truly need nothing more than what the natural world provides us. Our wants have gotten in the way of simply enjoying life. Why maintain an occupation you don’t like just to obtain objects don’t need?

    1. Unfortunately, the natural world falls a bit short of providing everything. Many people have to maintain an occupation they don’t particularly like simply to put half-way decent food on the table and a roof over their heads. Sometimes a lucrative, enjoyable livelihood does fall right into one’s lap, but in the real world it doesn’t happen very often.

  16. Fantastic post today!! My number one passion these past 4+ years is taking responsibility for my health and seeing where it takes me. Thanks to you Mark, for providing such a comprehensive and accessible resource to guide us on our journeys. It’s such a great ride; I’ve recovered energy, strength, and enthusiasm that I thought were gone forever. And I’ve recovered my calm. Such peace.
    I’ve always been intrigued by the word ‘integrity’ so I re-read the post you linked to and was struck by what an exceptional writer you are. It’s a treat to read this website every day. No one else even comes close. Thank you.

  17. SO TRUE! Around the time I got into the primal lifestyle at the end of my undergrad was around the time I started experimenting (“biohacking” “n=1” type stuff) with how to maximize my happiness, physical and mental performance. Seem that so many people are content drudging along way under potential. Once I realized that I can make my life exactly how I ideally envision it, I started to pursue avenues that help me get there 🙂

  18. While asking the question “what am I doing with my one primal life?” is always worthwhile, there are those of us who, try as we might to be still and listen to our inner voice (and those of others) as much as possible, still don’t really find a defining answer that totally satisfies.

    The only thing I can think to do about that is to keep on listening and searching and I guess that itself is at least part of the answer to the question.

    1. Have you considered that learning itself might be the answer rather than settling on any one (or two) activities or hobbies?

  19. I love how MDA isn’t just about food and how to get rock hard abs! It’s all the elements and the way they come together. Community, sleep, play… it’s the holistic approach to living that keeps me coming back to this website (when I am completely bored of paleo recipes, WODs, and crossfit fashion).
    In fact, I have just decided to start eating rice and beans probably four days a week so that we can have a deeper relationship to community–and I consider that to still be a Primal decision!

  20. Primal living means we take responsibility for our own happiness—and for learning what this means for us as individuals

    I don’t usually comment. But I totally agree with you on this one. I have been eating the Paleo diet for over 4 years or more? and do it because It allows me to not take any pain meds for arthritis, I feel pretty good, my weight stays stable, I am a good role model to my work buddies for eating healthy, and I am not going back to eating the things that make me feel “not so good”. I just don’t see my self ever going back to eating toast, gluten pizza, brownies, donuts, bagels, foods that I have to pass up at work mostly.
    I share the word about Paleo, some have caught on, like my sister, others not. That’s fine with me, I just keep doing what makes me feel good. I also try to move more, circuit training, walking and yoga classes.
    Thank you Mark and your staff.

  21. I absolutely see Primal principles as a catalyst for finding meaning in life. It was Mark Sisson and Peter Bane that helped me realize that I didn’t need to suffer through 5 years of soul-sucking math for a Mechanical Engineering degree at OSU. Once I figured out I was passionate about providing the healthiest food in an ecological manner, I switched to Sustainable Agriculture under Narural Resource Manageent and life has been immensely more pleasurable ever since!
    I’m not working to promote awareness and activism regarding labeling issues at the website linked in my name! Please check it out. 5 minutes of your time could keep our food system from being taken over by corporations!

    1. I think maybe you meant to say “I am now working….” 🙂

      Fantastic that you found your true calling!

  22. I work full time as an Engineer, in an office…sitting most of the day. And my passion/hobby is Violin, also a sedentary activity (at least compared to Ultimate!). To allow for my hobby making me sit even more, in the middle of practice I will often hop up, do 50 jumping jacks, 20 lunges, squats, calf raises, then back to practice. Hey, that counts, right?????

  23. I discovered Primal Living six years ago. It has transformed my life. Once my health and fitness were optimized, my mind begged the question, “What’s next?”. Improved relationships. Improved lifestyle. One by one I was able to check things off, but my job/career has been a major thorn. I have long struggled with finding my passion, and it was while I was listening to “The Minimalists” podcast that I heard the following: Following your passion is one of the worst decisions you can make. That really threw me off. I think each of us at one time or another has been told something similar. The key is to cultivate your passion and this book has helped me to realize that: It may help those of you who have experienced a similar struggle.

    1. Wow thanks for the post!
      Got the book, agree with this 100%

      “Following your passion is one of the worst decisions you can make”

      My passion is the music and the fitness, but I earn my living doing other things I like (work in IT)

      You can have your cake and eat it too!

      1. That is awesome. I am also in IT, and once I realized that I can cultivate my success as a passion, my world has opened up. So enjoy that gluten-free cake. 🙂

    2. Wow, never heard that one before. But in essence, that was my late Dad’s advice to me; do something that can earn you a good living, and enjoy your passion as a hobby. After 30 years in the work force, I still think he was right.

  24. How things have changed – I just randomly found an MDA article about coconut oil from May 2009 (should be linked in my name below), that mentions “Although it gets a bad rap in some circles for its high saturated fat content…” in the opening paragraphs (and someone references sat fat as bad in the comments as well), and it struck me how much the mainstream has, in the 7 years since then, totally embraced coconut oil and made it their own.

    It’s become one of the “good fats,” and while we still have a way to go with the mainstream over lard and butter, that’s one huge leap forward from the fat-phobic days of my early 20’s, when if it wasn’t crunchy, grainy, and dry as the Sahara, it was a suspect for “artergy clogging”!

    Sometimes it’s good to look back, and realise how far things have come, especially if you find yourself frustrated by loved ones who adhere to CW at the expense of their health.

    Hey so just dropping this comment in as a cheerful thing for the Ostara/Easter Weekend, thank you Mark for the work you’re doing here, you’re winning! 🙂

  25. What brings me joy is Brazilian jiu jitsu, and the more primal I am, the longer I can stay on the mats injury free… And performing better.

  26. Going primal means making time outdoors and time with people more important than time spent in front of the television! I love that activity is my first priority–preferably with those I love. This past week, before the weather became lovely, we took time as a family to visit a botanical garden and a butterfly conservatory. This was so much more nourishing than sitting in a multiplex watching a film filled with images of destruction. Primal living means appreciating the beauty of life.

  27. I was just reading the section at the end of your book “Primal Endurance” about HRV. I have the same APP you are using and have been tracking my HRV for about 3 months. I am almost 71 years old. I have been over 60 a few times but mostly in the 50s. My LF and HF are always in the 100s. The LF was at 1200 once. My resting heart rate is 48-51. I climb mountains on the weekend and go to the gym and get in the “hole” 5 days a week. So can I confirm my adrenals are gone? I certainly don’t make testosterone any more. I don’t know about Cortisol or DHEA.