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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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July 22 2015

The Primal Laws: 8 Honorable Mentions

By Mark Sisson
98 Comments

Way back in 2008, I revealed the foundation underpinning the Primal Blueprint: the 10 Primal Laws. These behaviors and environmental influences comprised the daily lives of our ancestors for hundreds of thousands of years and continue to shape our collective genomes today. Even if you haven’t read the book, definitive guide, or seen the laws before, they should look pretty familiar. Most everything I write about on this blog and in my books uses them as touchstone. Much changes, but everything stays the same:

  1. Eat lots of animals, insects, and plants.
  2. Move around a lot at a slow pace.
  3. Lift heavy things.
  4. Run really fast once in awhile.
  5. Get lots of sleep.
  6. Play.
  7. Get some sunlight every day.
  8. Avoid trauma.
  9. Avoid poisonous things.
  10. Use your mind.

If you follow those 10 foundational laws, you’ll be setting yourself up for a healthy, vibrant life. But what else is there? What were the honorable mentions that didn’t quite make the cut? In no particular order, here are several additional lifestyle behaviors that are central to my life and were a big part of our ancestors’:

1. Hang out with dogs.

Sorry, cat people. I love cats, and they can certainly provide companionship and free vermin extermination, but we simply don’t share as extensive an evolutionary history with cats as we do with dogs. That’s probably why dogs can judge a person’s emotional state from their facial expression, notice when you’re smiling, and perceive whether we’re happy or disgusted. When you gaze into your dog’s eyes, you’re both getting hit with oxytocin. That’s how deep the bond runs. I don’t know about you, but I’d be careful about severing that bond, or never having it at all. It seems to be intrinsic and essential.

Plus, on the purely utilitarian tip, dog ownership is linked to increased physical activity (dog’s gotta walk!).

Owning a dog isn’t for everyone. You need the time and compulsion to exercise them, feed them, and love them. But the cool thing about a dog is that they have a nearly limitless capacity to love. If your best friend has a dog, chances are that dog loves and respects you. So if you’re not a dog owner yourself, find a way to spend time with them. Volunteer at a shelter. Be a foster parent to dogs in need of permanent homes. Or just find a cool dog park and go hang out every once in awhile.

2. Gaze at the stars whenever you can.

Go camping on a clear night away from urban light pollution, look upward, and be amazed. Now realize that for hundreds of thousands of years of human prehistory, that’s what we saw every time we looked up at the sky at night. Entire galaxies. Impossible numbers of stars. Constellations so distinct that you finally understand what those ancient Greeks were talking about. That’s the backdrop of ancestral chill-out time. That, the company we kept, and the fire flickering before us were the nighttime entertainment.

I don’t pretend to star gaze as often as I’d like. Malibu is remoter than you might think, but our proximity to one of the world’s most sprawling metropolises reduces visibility. For most, stargazing means something entirely different in LA County. But when I get to do it, when I’m camping with the family or on a snowboarding trip or anywhere at all that allows unfettered visual access to the stars, I take advantage. And I come away feeling humbled. How can a person maintain a large unwieldy ego in the presence of such immensity and eternity?

3. Go frequently to a green place.

I’ve extolled the extensive virtues of green spaces, particularly in the context of city living. It’s become quite clear than spending time in nature isn’t optional, it’s essential. Simply being, let alone living, near green space has a number of physiological and psychological benefits:

Check the post linked above for 13 more proven benefits. Overall, nature is simply relaxing, beautiful, and a great place to exercise. Trails just ask to be run upon, trees silently implore you to climb them, and beaches are always requesting that people sprint all over them. Plus, it’s where we come from. Nature is the human constant. It’s our “normal.” Cities, towering skyscrapers, walls, fences, concrete covering everything within five miles? That’s the aberration. Going for a hike in the forest is going home.

Side note: By “green space,” I mean anything where nature pervades: parks, forests, marshes, swamps, beaches, deserts, gardens. It needn’t actually be green.

4. Consort with natural water.

As I’ve written before, humans have an interesting connection to water. Sure, we need to drink it, and thirst’ll kill us before hunger. Sure, lots of delicious goodies reside in water, and the ever-important long chain omega-3 fats that may have facilitated rapid brain expansion are found almost exclusively in water-dwelling creatures like fish and shellfish. But it goes way deeper than that. Emerging evidence confirms our deep connection to the deep blue, finding that “blue space” improves well-being, reduces anxiety and depression, and can even improve resistance to cancer and other degenerative diseases (PDF).

So find a river, lake, or pond (preferably one not frequented by incontinent waterfowl) and hop in. Go to the beach and take a dip. You don’t even have get wet. Kayaking, standup paddling, surfing (just don’t fall!), or any other type of self-propelled water vehicle are valid ways to visit the water. Pools are great (especially if they’re salt water; I use mine frequently) and certainly convenient, but there’s something about swimming in clean, natural water that can’t be beat.

I’ll also tack on the importance of consuming mineral water. It’s likely that early humans got a significant amount of essential minerals from the water they drank. My favorite is Gerolsteiner, out of Germany. Tons of calcium and magnesium and a perfect amount of carbonation. Just check the label for mineral content; some “mineral waters” have shockingly low levels.

5. Direct your gaze toward distant objects and sights.

We spend so much of our time these days huddled over a desk or smartphone, staring into a screen 8-12 inches from our faces, for hours upon hours on end. It’s objectively terrible for our posture (unless we take pains to constantly remind ourselves to sit and stand correctly) and I’d argue that along with lack of sun exposure it contributes to the degeneration of our eyesight.

Plus, as with the star gazing, looking far off into the distance realigns what actually matters. Every time I spend an hour watching the sun dip down below the waves, often with Carrie and/or Buddha (my lab) and Shanti (my goldendoodle), I am refreshed. It’s not scientific, and there are certainly confounding variables (the beach, the wife, the dogs), but man if every little thing I was worrying so much about didn’t seem smaller and less important after watching a ball of galactic fire turn the sky crimson from 93 million miles away.

6. Consume stories.

It doesn’t really matter what form you consume: movies, television, books, comics, podcasts, public radio. What’s important — and, I think, essential to being human — is the consumption of stories, tales, yarns, legends, myths, and literature. There’s a reason why stories resonate with us, why the best way to change minds or hearts is to tell them a story. That’s how we passed the time for thousands of years before TV, radio, or even the written word. That’s why politicians tell stories in speeches (because sticking to facts and statistics will only reveal their ineptitude and corruption). It’s why anecdotes, even if they come from anonymous commenters on Internet message boards, are often more convincing than objective scientific studies. It’s why we’re liable to binge watch TV shows as our life crumbles around us.

Stories are how humans relay experiences, convey lessons, entertain friends, make important points, and explain otherwise confusing concepts. If you can’t tell good ones — it takes a gift, in my experience — listening (or reading/watching/etc) is just as valid. Not everyone is a writer or crier or storyteller. And that’s okay. That’s human.

7. Sit around a fire.

This’ll be one of those dreaded “just-so stories” upon which the skeptics like to claim the entirety of ancestral health rests. So what?

As long as humans have controlled fire, they’ve sat around it at night. For warmth and illumination or to cook. Or for entertainment and to ward off insects and animals. Many a long comfortable silence was spent staring into the dancing flames. And sure enough, modern research confirms that campfires induce the relaxation response, biasing us toward the parasympathetic nervous system, lowering blood pressure, and making us more social with our companions.

Side note: Fireplaces should work, too.

8. Make yourself useful.

This means cultivating a skill, a quality, or a craft that others find useful. It could be cooking (people need to eat), or writing (people need to read and learn), or massage (people have stiff/sore tissues), or skateboarding (people need to be amazed), or fixing cars (people’s cars need to run), or carpentry (people need roofs over their heads). It can be literally anything fitting the criteria. Learn to do something that others would or do find useful.

Are these essential Primal laws? For me, they are. For you, perhaps not. But I’m confident adhering to most of these Laws would benefit your lives, too. Campfires? Skill development? Walks in the forest? Refreshing swims in the ocean? A fluffy friendly dog? What’s not to love?

I’m incredibly curious to hear your feedback. Do any of these honorable mentions deserve full Primal Law status? Which do not?

That’s it for today, folks. Thanks for reading!

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98 thoughts on “The Primal Laws: 8 Honorable Mentions”

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  1. Great post. I’ve been waiting for a mention of the roles dogs play in a primal lifestyle!

    1. Seconded… I feed home-butchered raw that I can just barely afford because I get it from a chinese grocery store. Definitely not grass-fed beef for my 100lb dog.
      Wondering about alternatives…

      1. I’m not sure dogs really benefit from grass-fed beef. They don’t have the same nutritional requirements as people.

        1. If you’re into feeding your dog the type of diet it evolved on, look into the B.A.R.F. (Bones And Raw Food) diet.

          http://www.BarfWorld.com/ is a great resource for information on this crazy-awesome diet for your best bud.

          I have no affiliations to BarfWorld — I just subscribe to the idea of an evolutionary approach to my dog’s diet.

          P.S. The diet itself is EXPENSIVE.

        2. Yes, I feel organ meat and whole chickens. Beef, fish, etc on rare occasions but my point was I can’t afford primal foods (pasture-raised grass fed etc) for the dog. She eats 2-3 lbs of raw food a day.

      2. Wysong and Blue Buffalo are good dry foods. Expensive but pets are satisfied with smaller portions. Most supermarket brands are full of corn, grains, not good at al for carnivores. I shop from PetFlow and get free shipping.

        1. Blue Buffalo has had too many issues in recent months. I’d go with Nature Variety Instinct, Victors, Fromms, Wellness Core etc etc before feeding Blue.

      3. My dog used to eat raw, but her stomach atm can’t handle it, so she’s eating 50/50 kibble and cooked fish (mixing kibble and meats is okay, kibble digests faster, contrary what most websites say)

        Just feed your doge what meats you can afford 🙂 Meats and offal and a bit of bone for calcium is wayyyyy better than commercial crap foods anyway!

      4. Organ meats for your dog. They are relatively inexpensive. My family business is meat/buthering and many people come in to buy raw marrow bones and organ meats for their dogs.

        1. I tried giving my dog a bone, when she was younger, maybe 5 years old, and she broke a tooth. Cost me over $450, to have the rest of it pulled. Then last year, at 8years old, I gave her a ham bone, just to get all the good stuff off of it, and she broke another tooth. Now the price is over $500, to get it pulled, so no more bones. At least for her. She is a Rhodesian Ridgeback.

          1. What bones to give your dog depends on the size and type of dog. There are bones they can eat, and bones they can chaw on. Boned should always be fresh and raw, and whatever the dog doesn’t finish should be thrown away so that it doesn’t dry out and harden. Never give a cooked, smoked or dry bone.

    2. Check out the prey model raw diet. I don’t feed them grass fed meat either because that would be insanely expensive.

      What I do make sure is that any organs I feed are only from grass fed animals.

      I also make sure to supply them wild caught sardines and krill oil to balance the omega 6 in the grain feed meat they get.

  2. They all deserve Primal Law status in my experience. Every one of the 10 foundational and 8 additional enhances life and makes living a wonderful experience.

  3. :)I would add “be social” (like being part of a tribe) and listen to music, too!

    1. It might be just as important to appreciate solitude. maybe even more so than being social.

  4. Thanks, Mark, I really love this post. Just thinking about all these things – some of which I will do today – puts me in a good mood. And as an (occasional!) binge watcher, I really enjoyed the link to the Portlandia show.

  5. Great additional list!

    Re “the green place,” just a shout out to putting toothpicks in yams and placing them in a cup of water so they grow over the winter. It was the only green thing on my horizon last winter, and staring at it helped! I did a little experiment with the purple yams, the orange yams, and the potatoes to see the different leaf shapes and colorings.

    As for “making yourself useful,” I’d like to add that if your use involves a craft, there is a wonderful pleasure in giving it to someone, just as there is receiving a home-made gift (as long as it’s not a painting that the person might feel pressured to display). It can be really simple. I gave…one of my sprouted yams to my green-starved neighbors! ha ha

  6. I have chosen to live in the mountains of NM to be able to see more trees than people (strangers) around. I am seeking out silence paired with the sounds of nature – the wind in the tress, the rushing water. Sound or the absence thereof is one other big component of a good life, at least for me. And things such as seeing the rising and setting sun and its course across the sky, the moon and knowing which phase of the moon we are in, the stars, being caught hiking in a rain storm etc. are invigorating to me. I am working hard on the land – fixing, tending etc. I am living with animals – cats and horses at this point as my faithful border collie died some time ago. I love working with animals. Horses offer many great ways to commune with nature (trail riding, wilderness horse packing) and to interact with an animal that has also played a big role in human history. Horses as prey animals are a challenge for people (predators) when it comes to building a trusting relationship but the rewards are immense.
    I have just returned from a week long trip to San Diego as I love to visit the ocean once a while. But as always I was overwhelmed by the traffic, the constant stream of people, the noise, air planes taking off and landing, the inner city concrete jungle. CA must have been paradise on earth … before a gazillion people decided to move there which took away the magic. I went to SeaWorld and immensely enjoyed watching some dolphin trainers working with kids to introduce them to these marvelous sea creatures. Seeing a timid kid gaining confidence and becoming comfortable with the animals was a real treat. The rest of the theme park – too much noise, too many people, too plastic-fantastic – was just too much and I doubt I will go back.
    Many people have to or chose to live in urban areas confined to a house which is probably much bigger and nicer than mine, probably enjoying more culture than me but then again less nature. I love going to concerts but often shy away from the long and tedious trip to the concerts halls in the big city. So, I have started to play an instrument. Instead to going to big name concerts we are visiting with other mountain folks at their jam sessions which is cheaper (i.e. less time spent on a computer to make money) and a ton of fun. The older I get the more I am getting into the realization that the mere consumption (may it be things, thoughts, art, etc.) is not what being a human is all about. Everybody is an artist and creator.
    Yes, Mark (and your team), your suggestions and recommendations resonate very well with me and some of your writings (and the comments of people) have helped me to reflect more on my life and what to do with it. Our environment and our relationship to the natural environment and our fellow creatures are as important to becoming a whole human being as is the food that works best for us humans. Thank you.

    1. What a wonderful life you have chosen. I hope you will find a new dog to join you.

    2. He’s right. Get a horse. Get a herd, if you can. Then you will know about taking care, and partnership, knowing your territory, patience, self-control. Tonight I soaked in a hot salty outdoor bath, and Horse looked on from the arched entrance. Sublime.

    3. Sabine, I feel more relaxed after just reading your comments. I once lived a similar lifestyle and would love to return to it! Enjoy!

  7. Between the 10 laws and these 8 you have almost perfectly described my childhood experience. I think “make yourself useful” was one of my dad’s favorite sayings. Good reminder and motivation to provide the same experience for my kids.

  8. Sitting by a fire, while between an green and blue place, with a dog, while eating lots of animals, insects, and plants.

  9. I agree completely about the value of dogs. I have a hound-mix named Sophie Elizabeth, and the constant flow of oxytosin between us, plus the flow of other feel-good neurotransmitters gives me a daily sense of joy and well-being. When I wake up in the mornings, and see my dog stretching and coming to me for affection, it starts each day out on a positive note. When I watch her swimming in the lake, retrieving a floaty toy, it creates intense feelings of love and happiness. Just looking at her face and ears makes me feel good, and don’t get me started on how joyful it is to stroke her fur. I have always had dogs in my life, and can’t imagine a world without them. Sometimes I feel sadness for people who have never been able to, or wish to establish a relationship with a good dog. I know they are not for everyone though…

  10. Thanks, Mark, I loved this post. Just reading about all these things – some of which I will do today – put me in a good mood. And as an (occasional!) binge watcher, I really enjoyed the Portlandia show you linked to – and resisted the urge to watch any other episodes.

  11. As a lifelong cat enthusiast, I have to say that, while I agree that our evolutionary history with dogs is more lengthy and prevalent, my cats (Cornish Rex’s) absolutely do read my facial expressions and are more/as companionable than the dogs I have loved.

    I think the breed of cat has a lot to do with how much bonding can take place.
    Some breeds, like the Rex, are more intelligent and much more people oriented.

    Just my (cat) thoughts.

    1. Yup. True. In Thailand the Korat cat is venerated and I’m told you must receive one as a gift, you cannot buy one. Very smart, very strong bond with humans. Although even our lowly, much abused American Shorthair can be a first-class friend.

  12. Cat person here. Don’t get me wrong: I adore dogs and would adopt a bazillion of them. But I’m not very alpha. So when I have had dogs, they walk all over me and I get offended more often than not. With cats? You just assume they’re going to walk all over you. So I adopt cats.

    (And don’t tell me cats don’t know when I’m sad. She is my boon companion when I’m down. The soft paw on my face to inquire as to my mood is enough to tell me she’s sensitive to my moods.)

    1. Very true. Cats know. And they are very loving. Just not to every Tom, Dick and Harry who comes along.

  13. Awesome,

    If I could add another? Go barefoot as much as you can.

    It’s a great way again to connect to nature and the benefits of grounding/earthing are becoming more apparent with research showing electrons from the earth have an antioxidant effect in our bodies.

    Remember Grok didn’t wear no Nike Shox!

    -Jamie

    1. Love walking barefoot. I never did as a kid (Dad was paranoid about parasites). Now I take my 10 minute walk between parking garage and office and take the shoes off.

      Something really comforting about the slap of my feet on the pavement or the grass. It “grounds” me.

      HAH. I crack myself up.

  14. I think I will take my dog for a walk now. He loves the scents and sounds of the green space where we romp. It’s the highlight of his day. I should follow his lead and nap afterwards.

  15. Actually, it was through dogs that I finally understood the meaning of love, having never learned it from parents or other family members. Love to me is when I put my dog’s physical and psychological needs ahead of my own desires to sit and read all the time, stay at work late, or stay on the couch when I get home from work. Also I don’t buy everything I wish to have so I can afford a good quality dog food and gas to run her around to parks and lakes for variety. All in all, it is a good life investment for your health to care deeply for a dog.

    1. Very beautiful. Many kids learn love from animals. Bullied children especially need animals.

      1. Thank you, Maidel for your comment. I agree with you about bullied children needing animals to comfort them, especially when the bullies are people in your family who are supposed to love you.

      2. Dear Maidel, “Bullied children . . .need animals.” Grew up in a really rough dis-functional abusive home. Spent many years and big bucks trying to get human in offices of shrinks. The last one and I suppose the most successful Doc shocked me one day by telling me to GET A DOG. So I went down to the local pound to look around . Amazing. One of the canine critters there chose me. I named him Bruno. First really hard lesson for me was to learn something called unconditional love — from my doggie. That was about forty years ago, Everything’s been uphill since then, and the dogs in my life have been a big part of the goodness of it all.

        1. Dear Philip,

          What a rough journey you have had! Thank God Bruno read you, mind and soul, and stepped up to be a trustworthy friend. The scars from childhood are permanent but, as you know, they can be set to one side. Love your phrase “trying to get human”. It’s possible to take deep pain, turn it around into a motivation and make it into a powerful engine. Sounds as if you have. I suspect you have a mission in life and need that power. A ski instructor once told me this, at the top of a steep hill: “Fear is your friend. Ask it to wait for you at the bottom of the hill. Now, ski!”

  16. Dogs rock. So do green places. I’m not a fan of xeriscaping, so we have plenty of green right in the yard–grass, trees, vines, bushes, a vegetable garden, a few flowers. We often just sit on the patio in the evening. The dog joins us, of course. You have to get away from the city to see many stars, but it’s still very peaceful and relaxing. We’ve had a lot of rain this spring and summer, so the whole neighborhood is lushly green.

  17. Dogs rule 😀 This list is great! I think I would add something about listening to music. Music is just so good, I know my life would be incomplete without it. I’m headed to the Philadelphia Folk Festival in August and it will be 4 days of live music, going barefoot, meeting new people, swimming in a creek, sitting around a fire, and sleeping under the stars. It never occurred to me, but it seems quite primal now!

  18. Someday when I’m not working anymore I’m going to go around and visit hot springs. No better natural water than that, in my opinion.

    Like someone above mentioned, you missed music. Live, in-person, not-for-profit music that you make and dance to. Music and dance has been with humanity since the beginning. Joining a jam-session despite having very little talent and even less ability to actually play a fiddle has been wonderful, not just for the music but for the sense of community. Maybe someday I’ll try one of those drum circles.

    Sometimes when I’m out backpacking I get the urge to write a song (set to existing music) about something that’s happening. Forming the stanzas and the rhymes makes it easier to remember, and funnier, too. If you can’t tell a good story maybe you can make up a poem or song.

  19. Yes, music needs to be added to this list. It is powerful in many ways. For instance, when I need to get a lot done like cleaning the house before company comes I put on some oldies or classic rock. It instantly gives me more energy.

  20. I must be doing really well. I’m following all 10 foundational laws, plus all 8 additional lifestyle behaviors.
    I have 3 dogs, and I feel blessed to have them in my family.

  21. Thumbs up on all these! I would add the DESERT to #3. I recently backpacked in the Utah desert. Oh, man…the place is thriving with life! Water is scarce, but such a treat when you can find it. The rock formations are sculpted by nature over thousands of years. I hiked through a petrified forest that took thousands of years to form wood into colorful minerals. The stars are incredible at night. I slept under the stars… heard coyotes, an owl, saw bats flying over my face. During the trip I felt in my “element”. Much like the forest, the desert has a very peaceful feel to it. It’s the place to be! Probably my favorite place. So…for me….#3…. go frequently to a green or sandy place! 🙂

    1. Yes! Many writers and artists have figured this out. And deserts are very abundant in undisturbed wildlife. In the Chihuahuan Desert where I live I have a gray fox who comes by every evening for a hotdog (kosher). Runs off with the hotdog flapping in his mouth. Erle Stanley Gardner was one writer who deeply loved the desert.

  22. Okay, I take issue with point 1, but we see what you’re getting at. “Hear hear!” to volunteering if you can’t have a dog yourself. And if you _can_ have one, ADOPT one from a shelter! That certainly seems more primal to me than BUYING a boutique breed like a (cough, cough) goldendoodle.

    1. Kim, I have a golden doodle and it was a rescue. It was bigger than its littermates and looked more like a heavily built golden. Customers for the doodle breed did not want it because they thought it would shed and was not a lap dog. It is a unique dog. When people ask what breed it is, I simply say it is a South Island Wookie. They are bread in New Zealand to catch feral rabbits. He is either very fast or my local rabbits are slow. I do agree with you that the best dogs pick their master(at the pound) not the other way around. Mixed breeds seem to take on the better characteristics of whatever breeds they are composed of. Perhaps that is why there is a market for doodle dogs.

  23. I’m 8 for 8 on this. I live in central Colorado, the mountains/ rivers/ high plains, plenty opportunity for all eight. My dog is aging and she is on a primal lifestyle as I am, and my wife are. I feel a ninth law is in order. I haven’t read the comments yet so some one may have said this all ready, Gratitude.

  24. Don’t want to get into a cat and dog fight but cats really do amazing things for humans too. Not to short-change dogs. I had a Border Collie who came to “collect me” when I started first grade. I don’t know how she found the school as the school bus left our farm going in the opposite direction and drove over ten miles in a big loop. But there she was waiting for me at 3PM and I had to beg the bus driver to let her onboard!
    As for cats, if I wake up from a nightmare, absolutely rigid, not moving a muscle, my cat, Whisper, knows. She comes from wherever she is sleeping and places herself on top of my head (!) purring like a motorboat. And I had a Korat cat, Loulou, who very definitely waited for me to say goodbye before she died. No question about it.
    Many children are raised as much by animals as by humans, this is the only real love they get, and I worry about urban kids who have no animal friends. BTW cats are more evolved than dogs, just a little evolutionary fact to balance things out.

  25. It may matter how you consume stories. I think they’re better when they are told by a person, in person. We in the South can’t stop doing this.

  26. Definitely add music to the list – anyone can sing (if you can speak) and nearly everyone listens even if they can’t yet play something. It forms a background thread to your life, like story-telling. In my case – it’s in colour too, because I’m synthesic.

  27. I guess this can go with stories, but art, visual art is an intrinsic part of our makeup, and should be included. Here in Australia, the government is so keen on outcomes based education that art is being slowly crushed. There is no funding for art in TAFE and anyone wanting to pursue this has to incur a huge debt. Story telling through pictures is huge.
    We have always said that the greatest gift we gave our three gorgeous sons was a country upbringing with dogs, animals, trees, rocks, fire and mud always in the equation. Thank you Mark and your team for all that you do.

  28. Oh, forgot. We used to billet Japanese students, and they usually came from the cities. I would put a mattress and sleeping bag on the ground outside (we live regionally), on a clear night so they could star gaze. Most simply cried with the wonder of it all.

  29. Great post, however i think one important point is missing : Spirituality . Regardeless you belive or not in God, our ancestors manage stress using a lot of it. Sitting around fire not come even close to that. Even science prove the benefits of meditation and prayer. Being faithless sounds unnaturally to me. Face life only in terms of this material world is kind of frightening to me , so my stress get worse , so my cholesterol. I know there is many ways do unwind, but for those that have tasted the power of the spiritual world there is nothing to compare.

  30. (because sticking to facts and statistics will only reveal their ineptitude and corruption)

    A noteworthy side bar in a very interesting article.

  31. I know someone already said it, but DANCE. Dance and dance and dance. Like a crazy person, as often as you can; like our ancestors did.

    I have an extraordinary relationship with my cat. It’s the same bond I had with my sweet dog, just as deep. Dogs read your eyes, cats feel your vibes. Both animals communicate, connect, and understand. Both enrich our lives.

  32. Several of those could be combined under “go camping”. Camping usually involves forests and/or water, campfires with stories, and/or stargazing. And if you do the planning or build/tend the fire you got the useful one, too. With all the state and national parks and forests plus wildlife preserves there are lots of places to go camping where life is still wild. My favorite places tend to be Corps of Engineer parks because they offer affordable camping with electrical hookups for those of us who are now too old to sleep on the ground and cook over the campfire.

  33. Another honorable mention from me: Have backyard chickens! Fresh eggs, free fertilizer and pest control. A triple win.

    1. I currently live in a townhouse with no backyard. I can’t wait until we move into a bigger place with a backyard! I’m definitely getting chickens then.

  34. So, I wonder how dogs got to be so revered and can be considered primal. Sure, cavemen took in dogs and enjoyed their company. But dogs nowadays could really be considered invasive species. They are not wild dogs who chose to live among a tribe of humans. They were bred to be unnatural species, brought into humans’ unnatural and chemical filled homes, trained to not really be dogs so that people can stand to be around them, and fed food unfit for humans, with human’s chemicals, and now are having human diseases. (and even going to psychologists!) There are huge stores taking up green space just for purchasing huge amounts of extra things (using up natural resources) for these invasive species. Then, there’s the poop, that for some reason is ok to enter our water supply when human poop isn’t whether it’s in little plastic bags or left alongside the trail (or worse yet, on top of the snow). Some people may be more natural with their dogs than the rest, but they are still invasive species to the area and more than likely trained to be “good”. (ie not dog-like)

    It is bad enough that we coop up animals so we can later eat them, but we have to eat. But cooping up animals that we caused to enter the world just for our enjoyment seems wrong to me. There are plenty of other ways to get that joy–from plants, a garden, kids (volunteer at a school, etc.)–other than cooping up animals, changing them from their natural state, and hurting the environment all at the same time.

    I would argue that far more primal is to just be in nature and appreciate the naturally occuring species around you, and even plant plants that help feed these natural species and have a birdfeeder.

    Many dog lovers out there will probably be outraged and think this is sacrelige to even mention, but it’s always good to see another point of view and think about things in a new way.

    1. Ha – so good to know I’m not alone in this view. Contact with animals, sure. Contact with animals that have been mutilated, isolated, and confined in an unnatural environment to serve as living teddy bears for humans? Not Primal.

    2. Actually, Becky, I have felt the same way about the domestic animal situation as you do, and if I could wave a magic wand and make this planet a perfect place for all plants and animals to live, I would do it in a heartbeat. Unfortunately, I don’t have any control over this, but if I did, humans would be the first to go. In the mean time, I will keep loving my adopted dog, which I must say has been a far better relationship than I have had with most humans.

  35. I’d say “hang out with animals” in general. I’m not sure that pet ownership, the way we currently define it in the US, is particularly Primal. Neither the pet nor the owner are living a particularly natural life, and the pet, especially, loses a lot by being a pet rather than a normal animal. Think about it: living indoors (except for two daily walks outside), being castrated, barely ever having contact with its own kind, never experiencing love or having a family or having babies – it’s not exactly Primal, is it? Definitely not what nature intended. Animals need to be more than just living teddy-bears for humans, and humans need to treat the animal world with more respect than they treat their pets.

    That said, humans do need contact with the animal world – not the teddy-bears that pets have become, but wild animals. Or even semi-tame animals. But animals that have their own lives and their own families and their own homes that are not human homes.

    I know I’m committing sacrilege here. 🙂

    1. I would love to see you personally hang out with some wild lions or tigers….

  36. Oh, I love this article! Telling stories and spending time in nature are points that I listed on my Paleomantic Lifestyle list. And we bought a dog – a fantastic salt-and-pepper mini schnauzer – for that very purpose of running around, rolling around, and sprinting! An oxytocin hit when we gaze into each other’s eyes? Fascinating!

  37. A raw natural diet for dogs is perfect!
    Their food is their medicine. To feed more economically a larger dog your best to get whole raw – not cooked- chicken carcasses. The ones that are leftovers from when the meat has been cut away for sale in shops. They might be found in a wholesale chicken place and at 50 cents a pound ( we have them if it that in Sydney, Australia ) So try and seek that for your pooch – cheers, Mara

  38. Oh my word, these should be totally incorporated into the Primal Laws under the heading of “Soul Connecting”! They are all about that moment of awesomeness that you get with a connection of something that has a meaning that totally moves you – moves your soul – what ever that means to you.
    Thank you Mark!

  39. What a great list. Even thinking about these activities creates a good feeling. Loved the dog one, I have 3 and pup on way! Walking them off leash in a green area with a stream and a view is about as good as it gets. I would add one more which is to breathe and relax for a short period every day- I guess meditate. Grok would have found time for this and it’s the best doctor.
    As always thanks for putting your thoughts out there.
    Take care and enjoy.

  40. Great post! Wonderful points that are rarely raised. Especially got a kick out of the link “as our life crumbles around us”. So funny!

  41. Just thinking about all this stuff put me in a good mood. It is so true. We moved and our new to us house looks out into the woods. I see all kinds of fun things from my own backyard (and not so fun. Picture snakes slithered as fast as they can one way and us running the other) and I’ve noticed I’m consistently less stressed in this house than my old one. It’s also full of natural light. I always feel like something’s missing if a dog is not around.

  42. What about volunteering, giving back, helping others? I have been teaching a fitness class for homeless women 1x/week for 5 years. I’ve also taught classes for these women on how to lower sugar intake. All of this probably is as good for MY mental and physical health as it is for them!

  43. Stop constantly looking and texting on your phone. I see people walk their dogs and constantly looking at their phones. They don’t even see me approaching with my 2 dogs. Just saying!

  44. this list is great! Even though it is implied with many of the ‘added’ list here being social is so important. Connecting with people on the same energy level is so restorative. Of course everyone is different, but even having someone else around without conversing with each other can bring people peace and love.

  45. Holy moly! Mark you’ve blown my mind! I love campfires. Here I thought there was something wrong with me. But there is nothing better than sitting around a fire you built yourself, sharing a laugh, and eating something meaty and delicious. Now there’s an explanation for my love of fire. Haha. Thanks

  46. Yes dogs make you exercise more if you care enough about them to walk them (sadly some people don’t) but don’t discount the relaxation that comes from patting a purring, smoochy pusscat. Puts a smile on your face and makes the stresses of work seem unimportant.

    I agree with sitting around a campfire (away from the smoke) but I am not a fan of fireplaces in the home. They make the quality of your indoor air worse and there are far more efficient ways to heat your home. The romantics can have their fireplaces, I’ll just play the ‘fireplace’ DVD and breathe better air.

  47. Great list!

    My only suggestion would be add “if any these stress you out too much, skip it!”. I love my dogs and love taking them for walks, but I find my tolerance for spending too much time in green spaces is limited. I know that is weird. Maybe it has something to do with growing up in rural northwest Ohio and being bored and isolated most of childhood. I couldn’t wait to graduate high school and go to college in the big city. I haven’t returned since, 25 plus years. I like a short walk in park or short hike down in Hocking Hills but quickly I find myself missing the concrete and noise of the city. I do what’s comfortable and not stress about the rest.

  48. I really feel sorry for people that have never had dogs, can’t have a dog or don’t understand the connection between humans and dogs.
    Many have kid after kid and are still left with a void they can’t fill. (those families with 4-5 kids, a depressed mom and 0 dogs)
    I can’t explain the psychology behind it, but having a special bond with that 1 dog that you ‘click’ with can’t be replaced by anything in this world.

  49. Songs are great for #6 and #8. And just fine when enjoying #7.

  50. +1 million about dogs! I love my two monsters, even when they are bad. 🙂

    Natural water.. yeah, I am not going into any waters here in Florida. 🙁

  51. Right on about the looking into the distance law.

    Very good point that is rarely mentioned.

    There is just no way that the average primal human spent as much time as we do looking at things up close…

  52. All of this just completely makes sense to me. Thank you for compiling things I think about on a daily basis into a clear and concise piece! One of my favorite posts I’ve read on here.

  53. Excellent post! Thank you for sharing. These are things that we often take for granted, pay no attention to, and/or completely ignore the importance of. Slowing down and getting in touch with our primitive instincts and feelings is a challenge in today’s go-go-go and digitized world.

    It’s ironic that Mark’s 10 laws and these 8 seem like wonderful insights when really it’s just getting back to who we’ve always been, but continuously ignore day in and day out, because our work demands it and the environment we create in the name of advancement (e.g., iPads, tv) promotes it.

    Thank you Mark for helping us to refocus our priorities. At the end of the day when we’re dead and gone it won’t be our bosses, jobs, or products we buy that’ll miss us. It’ll be the ones we’ve bonded with through our experiences.

  54. I’m glad dogs made the list. Some of the hospitals here allow volunteers to bring them in a couple of times a day and it’s an amazing thing to watch how people are immediately transformed when a dog approaches them.

  55. This is such a great addition. I’ve always had a yearning internal connection to dogs, water, the stars, green space and views, fires, etc. I would say sunrises and sunsets as well, always give me the same feeling. Thanks Mark!

  56. A really inspiring list – thanks. I have 3 wonderful dogs, enjoy being by water all the time (we live on a boat) and spend as much time as possible in nature. I’ve just recently discovered the joys of listening to stories by a campfire too. Just need to find a craft to learn.

  57. I think it’s important to separate “laws” from “things that are good for you”. There is a long, long list for the latter, but we need the former to be short.

    Given the 10 “laws” and these 8 honorable mentions, and probably some more, can we come up with a smalle set of more fundamental laws that cover most of the longer list?