Six Steps to Optimal Health, Brain Power and Happiness

Health is not the absence of disease. It is the desire and ability to actively engage in life. From that state comes our capacity to love, to learn, to create thriving careers and families. The only problem is that prehistoric humans had a better chance of living a fulfilled life than we do today… unless we learn the secrets of the caveman.

It turns out that you are simply not designed for the shape and pace of modern life. You were built for a time when life demanded that you be physically active in the sun for most of the day. You are biologically constructed to spend endless hours interacting with friends and loved ones, eat entirely unprocessed food, get considerably more sleep and never have to deal with relentless, demanding, subconscious stress. You are perfectly adapted to live a life that looks nothing like the one you actually lead in world that does not even faintly resemble the one you inhabit. No wonder you are confused…even depressed.

No worries, apparently whole lot of us are…

The World Health Organization is projecting that, by the year 2020, depression will become the world’s second most devastating illness, after heart disease. Depression also affects many physical illnesses, including heart disease, cancer, and diabetes, making them more likely, severe, and difficult to treat. Depression is the largest cause of work-related disability. One in five Americans will experience major depression in their lifetimes, and one in ten currently suffers from recurring bouts of major depression. The rate is more than doubling every decade.

Antidepressants are a risky business of dubious value. Applying electroshock to a family member can send the electric bills – and the relative – through the ceiling. So what to do?

Stephen Ilardi, a researcher at the University of Kansas and author of The Depression Cure calls for patients to adopt six healing practices from the ancient past:

  • Using engaging activity to combat excessive rumination
  • Getting regular sunlight exposure
  • Increasing physical (aerobic) exercise
  • Connecting more with others socially
  • Getting increased and healthier sleep

Interestingly, contemporary people whose lifestyles mirror those of our ancestors exhibit startlingly low rates of depression. The American Amish are total mental health champs while the Kaluli people of the New Guinea highlands – whose day to day existence of hunting and gathering is virtually identical to our ancestors – are almost free of depressive illness. The logical conclusion: until the reality of our work and environment change, it is up to us…to live like a caveman.