The Ergonomic Life

Academically speaking, the term ergonomic life doesn’t make much sense, but let’s make a thought experiment in which we can bend the reality a bit and make it such it’s absolutely okay to use the wording that conveys the underlying message really well.

Ever since I remember, I’ve been a person that wants to try as many things as possible in as many configurations as possible. It’s been the case for almost everything in my personal life and I’m keen to believe that – what could be called an unfair advantage that comes with my genetics – it allowed me to enjoy quite a successful career as an infosec professional.
The way I’m wired is that I’m relentless in my restlessness and I’m always curious to learn the answer to the ‘what if?’. What if I try this? What if I try that? What if I succeed at this? What does it mean when I fail at that thing? What if I do it now and what would the results be as compared to the outcome I’ve experienced when I’ve had tried it for the first time?
I’ve always liked to ask myself questions and couldn’t stand not knowing the answer.

While one could perceive such restless behavior to be caused by an irritated soul that’s living in the scarcity, I don’t think that’s really the case here. While there certainly have been times where I’ve had to manage living on a budget and trying to make a living, that’s hasn’t been the case for many years and even when the times were bad I think that the experiments were coming from a core belief into the abundance of resources all over the place.
Having had been perceiving a life to be the greatest game of all, I’ve liked to play with things to see if they had a potential of making my – or my closest ones – life better.

 

It wasn’t until about a year ago when I’ve stumbled upon the term and concept of life’s ergonomy. That I’ve been testing thousands upon thousands of things, to end up in a spot where I’ve preserved a fraction of the outcomes that actually contributed to the higher quality of my life. That includes the trivial things such as knowing what type of clothing I like the most, what my favorite type of coffee is, how do I need to setup my home office to have a joyful and productive time or becoming more self-aware in terms of knowing what makes me feel certain ways and how I can make others feel better.
And about a year ago I’ve heard the phrase life’s ergonomy which I don’t remember if it was coined by me or by the person who’ve had repeated it back to me by gifting me an artwork mug with those specific words on it.  Since then my reticular activating system has kept close attention to the whole concept of the ergonomic life because besides the funny aspect of someone using it to describe my personality it actually hit something deeper.
Over the past year, I’ve continued being me with even higher intensity than ever, that made me play with a volume of things which would normally take me 3-5 years to experience. It’s been a good ride and lately, I’ve had a pleasure of share some of my key observations with my acquaintances at various occasions, which segued to fabulous discussions so I’ve decided to share some of it publicly as well in the hope it’ll benefit some of you on your life’s journeys.
It’s probable that I’ll publish a whole series of articles on my blog as a starting point for the bigger book that I’ve started assembling, so I want to kick it off with this blogposts to provide you with some context to all the good stuff that I’m about to publish.

 

Life can be hell but it can also be a hell of a ride. All the negative things aside, I’m not going to touch on any negative BS that happens to us. We all have different things, life isn’t all sunshine and rainbows, we have personal issues, we have family issues, we have relationship issues, we have health issues, we’re dealing with financial situations and all that. Shit happens, we all know that. That’s why I’m not really into writing much on embracing the suck, managing the suffering and so on because enough has been written on that already.
Even though there is a lot I could share that may have a potential of being useful, I’m not interested in visiting the darkness to pull out the good things and would much rather stay in the light and share some of the really positive stuff.
You know the saying ‘you are what you eat’, right? Well, if you look at it from the biological perspective there is much more to it than it just being a saying but that’s a whole different story. What’s important here is that the same way the cells in your body are made out of the food you consume, your mind creates a paradigm out of the thoughts you feed it with.

 

Eat unhealthy food and your body turns into your enemy.
Consume unhealthy thoughts and your minds turn into your enemy.

 

These two mechanisms are strongly connected to each other and there is a bunch of major branched of neurology that explains the influence of these two on each other, but I promise to cover this topic in a separate post somewhere down the road.

 

So, coming back to the concept of ergonomic life. I think that’s what it’s all about – about creating a framework which enables you to live the life to the fullest, whatever that means for any of us. To me, the ergonomic life is a life in which you’ve found your way of living where you are in nearly-complete control over the way your life is going to feel like, because you control the level of exposure to the purposeful discomfort. You create a foundation that allows you to make bigger risks without stressing your system too much. You learn about your boundaries so that you can push through them in a way that doesn’t ruin you or people around you. You make it that you decide when, when and how you want to put yourself in a state of discomfort – where most of the times the good things in life are.

 

The ergonomic life isn’t about having everything given to you so that you feel comfortable all the time by laying in your massage chair eating Doritos, watching Netflix and waiting for death. I mean – whatever rows your boat buddy, but to me personally, that’s a very limited life. You can use the concepts I’m about to share in any way you want, because it’s your life and you should live it the way you really want it, but I’m not going to beat around the bush and claim that a lazy life is a good life, because to me it isn’t.

 

Striving for life’s ergonomy is my way of doing my best to leave nothing on the table, making sure that I’ve lived my life in a way that when the time comes, I have very few what if’s running through my head unanswered. The regret of not having had tried something sucks, while the pain of failing at something sucks much less – unless it’s failing to enjoy the privilege of living, which is precisely something we’re trying to mitigate here.
This thing right here is just my version of the things you may be already familiar with, such as minimalism or essentialism, i.e. to be constrained to as few limitations as possible and to be enabled to enjoy the life doing as often as possible the things that matter the most to me.  Please take all you read with a grain of salt and a solid dose of detachment, because my definition of balance in life may appear to be so skewed, that I’ve replaced its usage with a harmony, that suits the context of my journey much better.

I’ll be sharing with you a piece of good advice on the longevity, but it’s not going to be a piece of advice on how to maintain a sterile apartment and get to live 130 years. It’s going to be more in lines of how to squeeze the most of all the things and not mess up your life too much while playing with it. Life’s really tasty when you explore the world but it’s even better when you know you’re not putting the wellbeing of your family on the line.
Usually, you want to get the most out of the least and rarely do you want to burn your boats – if you have a stomach for it then all power to you, but you know, for most of us mortals we’re better off taking some things easy.

 

A paradigm shift is something that’s really worth exploring, because believe me or not, life’s much better when you get to do things with a smile on your face. When you’re happy, it’s easier for people around you to be happy, which in turns allows their environments to become happier.
Sometimes we wonder about the meaning of life and how much is worth the individual life. You know, all that heavy and deep stuff that bothers us in the rainy winter nights.  To that, I’m going to reply with the classic – be the change you want to see in the world. It doesn’t mean you need to devote your life to a faculty that allows you to research the Alzheimer medications. It just means that it would be really awesome for the whole world if you had enjoyed your life a little bit and tried to at least not make other people lives miserable.
You don’t need to heal the world in the academic sense. Just don’t poison it with the negativity that originates from the misery you perceive your existence to be.
You are probably somewhat familiar with the Buddhist concept that life is suffering and you’re meant to not strive for happiness but just find a way to manage the suckery of life, not hurt others and all that jazz.
In principle, it has its merits. I’m not going to shit on anybody’s beliefs system or any concept so don’t get me wrong right here – Dukkha has a deep meaning that helped me to see the world from another perspective as well, but I feel like we generally don’t take this advice in a much productive way.
If you’re in a bad place in your life, it’s easy to interpret Dukkha as a nihilistic calling to just comply to suffer and continue the self-sabotage because life’s meant to be painful, right? Well, not really. I see where it’s coming from, but here is the way I look at these type of things.
Life is what it is. Some things are easy, some things are tougher than others. There is a nature that is interesting and that’s partially pleasant and there is quite lots of the laws of nature that are plain awful. Life’s not all sunshine and rainbows, we all have shit to deal with.
Reality is what it is and a lot of the quality of your existence depends on the way you accept that state of things.
If you’ve been chasing happiness without much success and that makes you feel like nothing really makes any sense, then it’s understandable that you’ll eventually grow tired of all that and accept that state of being while leaning towards a more negative paradigm which we can note as a state of coping. You’ve accepted the reality, but the way you’re going to live your life from now on is that you’re just going to let days pass by thanks to you have accustomed yourself to the existential suffering.
That’s one way of looking at the world and I’ve been there, done that and I didn’t like that crap. I thought that acceptance of suffering will finally bring the peace that we’re all looking for, but having had lived that way for years I’ve come to realize that it just didn’t click with me.  That gut feeling that makes the soul restless is a good indicator for me that the thing isn’t working.
Quite regularly I ask myself a question – do I want my life to be like that for the next 5 decades? Do I want my family and friends to be for the next 5 decades under the influence of a person that’s in such a bad place? Hell no! You see, life is what it is. Sometimes shit hits the fan and you’re put down. But that’s fine, you get to bed, wake up the next day and you just move on. But mate does it sucks to be the person that ruins the party for someone else. If I’m managing my life in a way that makes my days boring, dull, painful then fuck that, I can manage that – we all can. Sun will come up tomorrow whether your life is a mess or not. But the last thing I want is to bring someone else down, because I know we’re all struggling to a certain extent. We’re all chasing things, we’re all trying to build our life’s ergonomy in one way or another, whether we realize that or not. We all know how much it sucks when you’re put down and when there is a constant stream of negativity flooding your system. We need things to pull us up, but most certainly we don’t need influences that forcefully hold us down and don’t let us bounce back up.

 

The moment I’ve really realized that I’m negatively impacting the life’s experience for some of the people around me I pretty much sobered up from the lethargic attitude towards life.  That’s where the other part of the Dukkha really comes up – life is suffering, accept it, be a good person, don’t hurt others.  Me being a little bitch was me essentially hurting other people, regardless of how unintentional it’s been, the damage was done. So, if you want to follow the paradigm of “life is suffering” and all that jazz, then be consistent and remember about the part of not hurting others 🙂

 

That’s where I’m at right now – I acknowledge the suckery of life, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to spend the next 50 years just suffering and waiting for the end to come. I’ve accepted what I could, I’m working on things that I haven’t yet fully accepted and I’m doing my best to reduce the biological and social conditioning that made for my anxious mind.

 

And that’s what The Ergonomic Life is to me, my fellow readers. It’s about reducing the anxiety and pain, eliminating the things that actively impact the quality of your life making it less pleasant thanks to which I earn more space to do more of the things that bring me joy – a joy that I can then spread among my loved ones.

 

I believe that happiness isn’t something to be chased after in the way so many of us have been conditioned to do it. Happiness seems to be a natural state which we get robbed off through the dysfunctional nurture, so instead of thinking what you can do to finally feel happy, give yourself some space to think about the things that make it impossible for you to feel happy all the time.

 

Take some time off, give yourself a space to reflect, note the things that you know to be bad for you and work hard on replacing your toxic habits and reducing the number of negative influences.
I think this is a decent way of putting it into the language of common life – You don’t create a beautiful garden by planting all the flowers and trees that exist in the world. First of all, that’s impossible because there are plants that simply won’t grow on your type of ground and even if that wasn’t the case, you’ll end up with such a tight and dark place that it would be really hard to enjoy the beauty of individual plants.
You’ve been given a soil which you need to learn about first. What is the type of the ground, what are the quality of the soil and what type of nutrition does it lack to be at its best? When you have this knowledge – that states for the self-awareness in real life – you can now look at all the things in your garden and see which flowers you like and which you don’t. But don’t rip them out of the ground if you don’t like some. Don’t be too quick to judge, because you should keep in mind that the weeds. Scour the weeds first and leave the garden for a while to see what does it looks like when the plants have their space and good environment to grow. The chance is that you’ll then like the picture with an exception for a few things that just don’t fit the picture.
Whatever it turns out to be, don’t be anxious about it, because it’s just the way it is and the way it’s supposed to be.
Don’t be mad that a certain flower won’t grow pretty in your garden, because that’s how nature is. Not everything is for everybody.
Even then, maybe you don’t really need to remove those plants from the soil – maybe you just keep them trimmed so they stay in your garden but don’t overshadow other things that bring more pleasure to your senses.

 

That’s what life is. Don’t judge too quickly, but make sure to make observations while trying to remain detached from the emotional influence. By all means, chase happiness but be thoughtful about it.
If adding one thing after another on top of all the overwhelming collection of things that you have doesn’t seem to work, then why don’t you try subtracting for once to uncover your real nature? There is more than meets the eye, especially that the closer you look the less you see 🙂

 

Don’t stress that much about being the change in the world.
Being a positive influence in the world is good enough and appears to be a much more attainable state of being!

 

I think that’s good for now – I’ve left a bunch of anchors that should give you an overview on what this series is going to be about and that make for a good starting point for me to kick off the next posts in the series.

 

Till the next time and gave a great Sunday Y’All!
-Dawid

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