The popular story of how low-carb diets work goes something like this: Reducing your carbohydrate...
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...Tell Me More
My staff and I are quite close. Things stay busy these days, so there isn’t a lot of downtime, but I’ve worked with some of these folks for over a decade. We don’t discuss every grisly detail of our lives with each other. But we do share. We care about each other.
So when one of the Worker Bees mentioned he was having some potentially serious medical issues, I asked for details. Turns out he went to his doctor for a hard lump on his throat that was getting progressively bigger. Initial pokes and prods were inconclusive. An MRI led to a biopsy, which led to an email in the middle of the afternoon with the results and a hell of an opener: “This may be a cancer.” May helped. It wasn’t a sure thing yet.
For today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’m answering three questions from readers. I’ve come down hard against phones in bedrooms in the past. Is there a “good way” to use your phone in the bedroom? Reader Kathy offered some good reasons for keeping a phone there; what do I think? Next, HealthyHombre laments having to take antidepressants (but he shouldn’t lament). And finally, I cover the differences in omega-6 between pastured eggs and conventional eggs.
I can’t complain about my existence in modern culture. My life is great. I have a loving family. My kids are happy and successful. My wife is a friend and lover and confidante and partner. Business is good and interesting. I care about what I’m doing. Every day is meaningful—and unburdened by concerns around mental well-being. Depression isn’t an issue for me.
But it’s not the case for everyone. The numbers don’t lie. Depression rates are climbing. Antidepressants are among the most common drug prescriptions, even among children. And because it can be embarrassing to admit you’re depressed—like there’s “something wrong” with you if you say as much—many people with depression never seek help, so the real numbers could be even higher. Depression isn’t new of course. The ancients knew it as “melancholia,” or possession by malevolent spirits. But all evidence suggests that depression is more prevalent than ever before.
What’s going on?
“Gratitude, with a capital G. The word should resonate as holy (which has the same root as healthy, and means whole), for without it, boredom prevails. With it, you acknowledge and appreciate life’s gifts. This embodiment extends beyond your attitude to become an actual personality trait, a stress management took, an an overall way of life. You live in gratitude because you are here today—appreciative of the lessons and journey of your past, however imperfect—for no other particular reason or caveat. And you remain in gratitude through the daily struggles that give meaning and richness to your life.
It’s a role that’s probably more often thrust upon us—that of Primal advocate. There we are minding our own healthy business, and somebody’s question or comment fixes the spotlight on us. Why do we eat “so much” fat? What could possibly be wrong with bread? Why do we wear the shoes we do or race down the street like we stole something?
Sometimes it’s the people in our inner circle who are the inquiring minds. Other times it’s co-workers or even random strangers. Perhaps it’s even our doctors. Whatever the case, what might begin as a simple question can often devolve into a full-blown harangue about how we’re putting our health in grave peril. On the flip side, it may be we who descend into an extended diatribe on all things Primal as the other person tries to slink away, having just been intrigued by our lettuce wrapped “un-wich.” How do we respond in these conversations without losing all patience or perspective?
Living life on your own terms isn’t just a quaint turn of phrase. It has huge effects on your health. A large body of research shows that the less control you think you have over your life, the higher your mortality risk. That persists even when you control for other health variables and biomarkers. It’s even true for animals. Self-agency—or even the illusion of it—appears to be a requirement for healthy, happy aging.
And unlike some of the characteristics shared by centenarians, like good genes, control is malleable. You can’t change the structure of your DNA. You can, however, wrest control over your own life. Despite whatever challenges present themselves, you get to decide what purpose you contribute to each day.