Get it on Google Play
Download on the App Store

What We Lack in a Hyperconnected World

Is it strange that many of us these days feel hyperconnected and yet disconnected?

This is what Mark Sisson of Mark’s Daily Apple explores in his new book, The Primal Connection: Follow Your Genetic Blueprint to Health and Happiness. It’s a fascinating look at what we need as humans, what we lack in this age of distractions and speed.

Mark published The Primal Blueprint a couple years ago, and this new book looks like it builds on top of that. In this interview, Mark answers some key questions about what we lack in a hyperconnected world.

Q: How is The Primal Connection different from The Primal Blueprint?

Mark: The Primal Blueprint focused almost entirely on the evolutionary underpinnings of proper human nutrition and exercise. In short, as animals, we function best eating the diet and doing the exercises that humans evolved eating and doing, so an evolutionarily concordant diet and exercise plan is a good place to start a healthy lifestyle.

The Primal Connection is about all the other environmental and social factors that shaped who we are today as a species. It’s about how sun exposure and proper sleeping patterns are absolutely critical for optimal health. It’s about the importance of real social contact with other humans, face to face – not through words on a screen. It’s about adopting and adapting all the other behaviors of our ancestors that made them healthy, because it all shaped our evolution – just as the ancestral diet and exercise habits did. In short, if The Primal Blueprint was primarily concerned with the body as a meat vessel requiring certain dietary inputs, The Primal Connection explores the body as a mind and emotion meat vessel requiring certain social, environmental, sensual, and sensory inputs for optimal functioning.

Q: What’s the most glaring deficit in the modern human psyche?

Mark: A lack of mindfulness. It’s ironic, because we’re inundated with information, data, and knowledge that purports to fill our brains. Everything you could ever want to know about anything is right there at our fingertips.

But what’s really going on? What are you missing with your face buried in that smartphone?

We’re so focused on devouring the latest gadget or article or Tweet and moving on to the next one that we’re never really “here.” We’re like the NFL receiver who starts his fake-out move before he catches the ball and ends up dropping it. Before we’ve even perceived, noted, appreciated, and fully experienced the sensory and emotional input that make up everyday experiences, we’re moving on to the next thing.

The present is, by definition, extremely fleeting – here in an instant, gone in a second. But it’s also all we truly have. The future is “out there” and the past is “back there”; the present is right here. If we want to experience the present in any meaningful way, we have to be mindful of it. We have to consciously and diligently (at least at first, until it becomes second nature) stop, smell the roses, and then ruminate on what we’re smelling.

Q: What’s the most glaring deficit in the modern human body?

Mark: A lack of physical touch. Humans are social animals, as people often like to say. Social contact between humans should not be sterile and stand-offish. Most social animals spend much of their days touching other members of their group. They sleep together, groom each other, wrestle with each other, and sniff each other. They need constant physical touch, and, because they’re not beholden to social norms, they get to satisfy that need.

Humans are also social animals who need physical touch, but social contact between humans tends to be sterile and stand-offish. It’s too bad, because physical touch has immense physical and mental benefits. Quite literally, the welcome touch of another person – a hug, a kiss, a massage – enacts beneficial changes in gene expression at the molecular level, changes that reduce stress, release oxytocin, and lower inflammation. Babies who experience “touch deficit” have disrupted growth hormone, stress hormone, and bonding hormone secretion.

When you see your friends, hug them. Dads, hug your children. Pet owners, pet your dog and scratch your cat behind the ears. After all, you’re their family, and they may not have another outlet for touch.

Oh, and people: have sex. Often, and with someone you care about. Sex feels good, strengthens bonds, improves our immune system, and may even boost growth in the neurocampus.

Q: What is one quick tip that anyone can do to better align the expectations of their genes with the realities of modern life?

Mark: Make the effort to really disconnect from electronic stimulation at least twice a day. No phones, no computers, no Facebook, no email, no television. This sounds scary and hard, but there are a few simple ways to go about doing this.

Go for a walk on your lunch break and leave the smartphone at the desk. Just walk, preferably through a place with some greenspace.

Set a tech cut-off time before bed. Shoot for at least an hour before you go to sleep, but strive to extend that period to two hours.

Turn your phone off when you’re with people. It used to be that only old couples who’d been together for fifty years would be out to breakfast with their noses buried in their respective newspapers, but now everyone’s doing it. The oldsters earned the right, because they’ve lived life, but the 22 year old out with his buddies? I think it’s a shame that he can’t find anything more interesting than his phone.

Q: What don’t we get enough of, and why is it such a problem?

Mark: Play. People don’t play enough.

It’s funny, because when I talk to people, I find that playing is the hardest hurdle to overcome. How’s that? Play is, by definition, fun. Why wouldn’t you love to do more of it?

Play isn’t fun when you feel guilty or self-conscious about it. It’s not play if you’re holding back and looking around to see who’s pointing and laughing at you. Play must be carefree. For it to really “count,” play must be free. You have to commit to it. You can’t go out and begrudgingly toss the Frisbee around. Your body knows the difference; it can’t be tricked that easily. You have to really play. You have to give yourself over to the moment (remember, be here now).

The people you’re with also know the difference. If you’re outdoors tossing a ball with your kid (or even your dog) and you can’t help but gaze into the soulful eyes of your iPhone every minute, whomever you’re with will know that you’re not really playing with them. That you’re not really engaged in the activity. And that’s not playing. That’s acting.

Be a kid again. A kid who pays the bills, takes care of responsibilities and duties, and knows when to buckle down and do the things that matter, but a kid nonetheless.

Mark Sisson’s new book The Primal Connection was released today. Visit to see how you can get a bunch of free gifts for ordering a copy today.

Zen Habits

Leo Babuata
Neither Averting Nor Craving in Each Moment How Taking Care of My Finances Changed My Life Tips for Traveling with Kids My Grand Travel Experiment The Parent I Aspire to Be The Best & Less-than-Best Motivations for Learning The Miracle of Suspending Mis-Belief 7 Strategies for Dealing with Toxic People Finding Motivation on Important But Non-Urgent Tasks Learning Tips for the Top 8 Learning Challenges The 30-Day Learning Challenge The Place Where You Are Feeling Determined to Change Practicing Non-Judgment Hold Your Own Feet to the Fire Don’t Waste Your Opportunity How to Beat Procrastination with Daily Training The Time When We’ll Be Present & Content A Simple, Powerful Self-Compassion Method When Others Frustrate You Your Internet Habits Create Your Reality The Case for Replacing Exercise with Play Leave Yourself Wanting More Fail Faster at Habits The Anti-Bucket List Getting Started with the Discipline Habit The Case for Caring About Your Work Questions of Priority The Futility of Always Pushing Myself to Be More Pare Down with the Declutter Habit You’re Not Doing Life Wrong Getting Lost in Just Doing An Addict’s Guide to Overcoming the Distraction Habit The Source of Contentment Savor Discipline: Merge the Interests of Your Future & Present Selves What You Can Say Instead of “I Don’t Feel Like It” The Things That Get in the Way of Doing The Girl Who Saw Through the Illusions A Gradual Approach to Healthy Eating Unconditional Acceptance of Yourself My Typical Day: How I Get People to Think I’m Productive The Contentment Habit The Delightfully Short Guide to Reading More Books In Praise of Limits The Art of Being My Dad 5 Ideas to Create an Amazing 2015 Essential Zen Habits of 2014 Karate Chop Practicing Slowness & Being Present Overwhelmed by All the Changes You Want to Make My 2014 Successes and Failures Finding the Motivation to Change Your Entire Life When You’re Lonely The Brain’s Fast Mode 5 Questions to Simplify Your Life During the Holidays The Zen Habits Holiday Gift Guide The Four Hidden Habit Skills The Power of Delay Overwhelmed & Rushed? Do a Stress Assess Writer as Coder: The Iterative Way to Write a Book Please Support the Zen Habits Book Are You a Lift or Drag Force? When Resistance Smacks You in the Face When Your Plate is Too Full The Quickstart Guide to Quitting a Bad Habit The Zen Habits Book is Almost Done A Quick Guide to Gaining Confidence When You Socialize The Empty Container The Realization A Guide to Changing Self-Destructive Behaviors Pushing Past the Terrifying Dip in Motivation It’s Not Too Late to Change Bad Habits The Smart Way to Stick to Habits My Most Effective Learning Tools What I Do When I Fail How to Put Your Writing in Public The Productive Sprint The Biggest Reasons You Haven’t Changed Your Habits Seized by the Thunderhold of Fear What to Eat for Fat Loss The Heartbreaking Cruelty of Comparing Yourself to Others A Brief Guide to Overcoming Instant Gratification How to Get Motivated After a Vacation 7 Strategies for Facing Your Internet/TV Addiction How to Breathe 7 Discipline-Mastering Practices 7 Rules That Keep My Life Simple An Education in the Majestic Sierra Nevada The Lies Your Mind Tells You to Prevent Life Changes How to Believe in Yourself Don’t Waste a Moment How to Find Your Life Purpose: An Unconventional Approach How to Be Great Making Yourself Work Inhabit the Moment How to Master the Art of Living The Delusional Fantasies We Live With Each Day Living the Simple Life How to Be Prepared for Anything Turn Toward the Problem The End of the Day Philosophy The Painful Beauty of Impermanence How to Change Other People Pursuing Happiness When It’s Already Within You The Quickstart Guide to a Decluttered Home Parental Zen: How to Keep Your Cool as a Parent Looking for Love How to Stop Your Habit Changes From Getting Derailed Why We Have Regret The Essence of Fatherhood: 6 Simple Lessons A Call for Revolt: Advertising is the Anti-Minimalism The Frustratingly Slow Pace of Making Changes My Struggles with Eating Boring Food The No Procrastination Challenge Creating a Lovely Morning A Father’s Manifesto: Raising Young Men Who Respect Women Turn Inspiration Into Action Coming Back From a Setback The Gift A Guide for Young People: What to Do With Your Life No Excuses: Minimalism with Kids How to Make a Marriage Work Love Notes Flavorless: My Month of Food Boringness The Letting Go Ebook, Free The Miracle of the Self-Compassion Habit How I Tackle a Big Writing Project The Habit Action List The Reality of This Moment Confidence in Your Business 10 Ways to Do What You Don’t Want to Do On Making It Through Tough Journeys The Hard Stuff Often Matters Most What to Think About During Exercise You’ll Be OK The Most Important Two Minutes of Your Life A Call for Compassion for the Defenseless The Cure for Your Distraction Syndrome You’re Not Worse Than Other People Being Mindful of Your Stress What if You Didn’t Have to Worry About Yourself? The Universe of a Single Task Simplifying Is Painful Becoming Emotionally Self-Reliant How I Cleaned House & Simplified My Work Life The Busy Person’s Guide to Reducing Stress My Month Without a Smartphone What I’ve Learned as a Writer What the Exercise Habit Did For Me Fear is the Root of Your Problems This Moment 36 Lessons I’ve Learned About Habits The 3 Do-What-You-Love Conundrums How I Conduct My Business Constant Task Switching The Habits of Five Amazing Founders The Incredible Importance of Sleep for Habits & Motivation What Really Motivates Us to Stick to a Project? I Tried to Quit & It’s Too Hard! Unwired: A Month With Limited Internet, & Now No Cell Phone Procrastination is a Mindfulness Problem Letting Go of Judging People Don’t Scratch the Itch Become Happy in the Face of Physical Misery How Repetition Can Kickstart a Habit Zen Productivity When You’re Feeling Self-Doubt & a Lack of Motivation The Child That Holds Us Back Stateless Mindset My Month of (Almost) No Internet 12 Changes for 2014 Essential Zen Habits of 2013 The Fear of Being Alone The Calm Approach Things Every Man Should Own Family Gatherings: The Ultimate Mindfulness Training Ground Letter to an 18-year-old on the Career Path Less Traveled A Method to Find Balance 16 Surprising Lessons from My First 50-Mile Ultramarathon The Simple Fitness Habit Holiday Challenge Struggles with My Morning Internet Fast Surrender, Mindfulness & Entrepreneurship How I Learned to Stop Procrastinating, & Love Letting Go Finding Focus When You Run Out of Ideas The Necessary Art of Subtraction Jealousy & Suffering How Creativity Works, & How to Do It Self-Discipline in 5 Sentences Make It Your Job Developing Selfless Compassion Lyrical Learning, & Why We Learn Habits Wrong A Month Without Sugar Why I Read (+ a Dozen Book Recommendations) 12 Indispensable Mindful Living Tools Burn Down the Farm My Most Minimal Travel Setup Yet The Exquisite Habits of the Founder of Blue Bottle Coffee 3 Little Tricks to Deal With People Who Offend You My Healthiest Travel Routine Yet Startup Founder Megan Casey’s Habits of Priorities My Pursuit of the Art of Living A Month Without TV or Video The Way of No Debt Letting Go: How to Live With the Loss of a Loved One The Way to Be Ramit Sethi’s Entrepreneurial Habits The Time to Shut Down The Pain & Beauty of Life Changes 8 Creativity Lessons from a Pixar Animator Zen Mountain: Leave It All Behind Overcoming the Social Costs of Being Different Finding Quiet and Mindfulness Through Food My Failed Month of ‘No Sitting’ The Thinking Habit That Changed My Life Liking Healthy Foods is a Choice Unschoolery: My New Blog on Unschooling My Advice for Starting a Business Creating Your Habit Environment Travel Lessons with My Family Easier Decision-Making: Conduct Experiments Simplify: Let Go of Your Crutches The Fear of Being Found a Fraud The Flexible Mind Declutter Your Life A Month Without Coffee The Healthful Vegan Diet Living the Quiet Life The Art of Tasting Chocolate Mindfully Why Fear of Discomfort Might Be Ruining Your Life The Habits of Happiness How to Keep Habits Going During Travel A Year of Living Without The Key Habits of Organization I Failed Vegan Guide to San Francisco The Futility of Comparing Yourself to Others A Secret to Dad Greatness Habits: A Simple Change in Mindset Changes Everything The Worry That You’re Doing the Wrong Thing Right Now 6 Steps To Being More Creative How I Finally Faced My Weight & Debt Problems Working with the Obstacles in Your Path 9 Rules for a Simpler Day The Little Book of Contentment The Obstacle is the Path 5 Lessons in Contentment from Billionaires Warren Buffett & Charlie Munger Smile in Each Moment A Guide to Practical Compassion 6 Steps To Healing Yourself The 7-Day Vegan Challenge Why You Should Write Daily Achieving Without Goals Flowing with the Stresses of Kids (or anyone else) Habit Mastery: Creating the New Normal Defeat Distraction: Refocusing with Purpose Expanding the Envelope: A Method for Beating Anger A Guide to Practical Contentment The Practice of Work Mind & Vacation Mind, Simultaneously How to Eat Real Food Without Spending Hours in the Kitchen Quitting Your Habits The 38 Best Methods of Successful Exercisers How To Make It Impossible To Fail The Not Knowing Path of Being an Entrepreneur How to Change Your Life: A User’s Guide Getting Your Family On Board with Life Changes How to Stick to a Habit When Life Falls Apart Zen Mind in the Middle of Chaos & Stress Create a Sacred Space in Your Heart Meditation: The Most Fundamental Habit Creating the Genuine Connections We Long For Tremors of Psychitude: One Little Trick to Find Purpose and Motivation Create the Habits of Being Lean, in 7 Years Walled-in: Life Without Facebook The 7 Habits of Calmness The Four Habits that Form Habits Advice to My Kids My 10 Essential Email Habits The Daily Checklist Sticking to a Habit: The Definitive Guide The Meditation Diet: How I Lost 60+ lbs. by Savoring The Power of Habit Investments Discomfort Zone: How to Master the Universe The Most Successful Techniques for Rising Early Do Less: A Short Guide How to Savor Life What We Lack in a Hyperconnected World Simplify the Internet 12 Rules to Live By The New Rules of Fitness for 2013 52 Changes for 2013 The Unprocrastination Month, and the Relaunch of the Sea Change Program Essential Zen Habits of 2012 The Other Person is Never the Problem The Do Plan, or Why We Know But Don’t Do 28 Brilliant Tips for Living Life The Clutter-free Holiday Guide The Little Trick to Make Any Moment Better Tim Ferriss vs. Leo Babauta Showdown: On Whether Goals Suck The Work You Love is Waiting For You The 7-Step Method to Find Focus for Writing The Buy-Nothing Holiday Survival Guide Challenge: Buy Nothing Until 2013 How to Learn Anything Shaken By Life’s Beauty, Shaken Untrack: Letting Go of the Stress of Measuring 15 Great Excuses Not to Form the Fitness Habit How to Make Health Insurance a Bad Bet Why the Fitness Habit is More Important Than the Plan The Willingness to Think Differently Create a Superhealth Community A Vegan Tour of NYC