Thoughts on: “Lost Connections” by Johann Hari

For a long time depression and anxiety has been believed to be caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain and the solution is a lifetime pill popping. Hari challenges this idea, both the cause and the solution.

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His research shows 9 very different causes for depression – Disconnection from…

1. Meaningful work

2. Meaningful values

3. Other people

4. Status and respect

5. Childhood trauma

6. The natural world

7. A hopeful and secure future

8. & 9. The real role of genes and brain changes.

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📝 “You are not a machine with broken parts you are an animal whose need have not been met.”

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📝 When asked how many friends people have, “zero” is the most common answer.

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📝 Anxious and depressed people are prone to gaming addiction. Games have groups and teams, clear goals, and provides a sense of control.

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📝 Anti depressant Companies (who often finance studies) only publish what makes their product look good. Just like when we take selfies, we discard the double chins and post the one where we look ace! 🤳

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📝 The more people value things, the more likely they are to be depressed.

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📝 Obesity and loneliness are equally deadly.

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📝 Studies show that depression is in fact to a significant degree a problem not with your brain but with your life.

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⭐️ TAKEAWAY: I have not been depressed myself (I don’t think?) but like most people I have had periods that has been darker and more anxious than others. Reconnecting to the 9 areas pointed out by Hari definitely improved things for me. Whether it was starting to run in nature (6.), Meditation (5.), read books (2.) or work on this Insta account (1. & 3.). Unfortunately “Reconnection” is not as commercially lucrative and easy to package into a product as antidepressants.

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We all have people around us, friends or family members, that suffer from depression. Reading this book helped me gain a deeper understanding why modern society is a breeding ground for mental disorders.

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This books is a serious contender for Book of the Year for me – and it’s only beginning of February. ❤️

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What actions and habits in your life protect you from depression and anxiety? 🤔

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5/5

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Photo credit: @thelavinagency


Get the book right here or find other amazing reads in my reading lists! Also, if you want more notes from this book then checkout the Extended Notes, right here!

Raw and Unedited Notes from “Lost Connections”

My review could only cover a few of my notes from Lost Connections by Johann Hari. Here is the full set:


Additional Notes:

“You need your nausea, it is a message, it will tell us what’s wrong with you”.

Back then the answer was that depression was a malfunction in the brain. Lack of serotonin.

Cure: anti depressants SSRIs.

Side effect: you getting fat and sweaty.

Back in his youth. His family was unusual because they took pills. Nowadays everyone does it!

Björn comment: I was for the first time, since I was 15, chemically naked this year. Having quit both caffein and nicotine.

Depression and anxiety is very similar and often overlap.

Unhappiness and depression is not the same thing. Don’t say “cheer up!”

“If you expect it to work, for many of us, it will work”

The placebo effect could help almost any medical issue to some degree.

Publication bias: companies (who often finance studies) only publish the papers that make their product look good. Just like when you take selfies, you take several of them and discard all the ones with double chins and post the one where you look ace!

Effects of antidepressants are questionable but the side effects are real!

The drugs he evangelized as a teen wasn’t working and the company was later sued.

There is not much proof that low serotonin levels. Or if serotonin has anything to do with it.

Most popular book about anti depressants: “Listening to Prozac”.

Grief and depression has the same symptoms. Therefor, for a long time there was something called the “Grief exception” when it comes to diagnosing depression. But the time span for that exception has been made shorter and shorter and now it’s non existent.

Studies show that depression is in fact to a significant degree a problem not with your brain but with you you life.

Long term stress and bad events cause depression. Especially a combination of the two.

Depression has three types of cause: biological, social and psychological, this is known as the biopsychosocial- model.


1. Disconnection from meaningful work.

(Connects to Harari idea of meaningful pursuit)

Gallup 2011-2012: 13 percent is engaged in their work. 63 not engaged: Sleepwalking through the day. 23 percent are actively disengaged: busy acting out their unhappiness. Undermine their engaged colleagues.

The higher you are in the herachy the less likely you are to be depressed.

Control is important.

Disempowerment is at the heart of poor health.


2. Disconnection from other people.

Loneliness cause you cholesterol levels to sore.

“Being deeply lonely causes as much stress as being punched by a stranger”

Highly connected people get sick less.

Almost everything becomes more fatal when you are alone: cancer, heart disease, spiritual problems.

Obesity and loneliness are as deadly.

The lonely people are also Anxious , pessimistic , low self esteem and afraid other people will dislike them.

Loneliness usually comes first.

Björns comment: this is what we are doing to our old people…

As hunter gatherers we only made sense as a group.

Stress and anxiety caused by being alone pushed people back to the group (and increased survival odds for the group and the individual)

In a survey: nowadays it’s more common to have zero friends than any other option.

Being lonely and feeling lonely are not the same thing. Feeling lonely is the problem. You need to connect mutually. “It’s the sense that you are not sharing anything that matters with anyone else”.

Anxious and depressed people are prone to internet and gaming addiction. Escaping depression through distraction.

Games have Guilds and team, clear goals, control.


3. Disconnection from meaningful values

The more people value things, the more likely they are to be depressed.

Intrinsic vs. extrinsic values


4. Disconnected from childhood trauma.

Benefits of being obese:

1. Sexually protective

2. Physically protective (prison guards)

3. Reduce people’s expectations of you. You become invisible to humanity is some sense.

Being treated cruel by your parents is the biggest driver of depression out of all childhood traumas.


5. Disconnection from status and respect.

Stress levels are high when ones Status is threatened or low.

The author References the work by Robert Sapolsky.

Status insecurity might be a big culprit.

High inequality = high depression rates.

Even out hierarchies might be a good idea. Today’s world is more unequal than ever.


6. Disconnection from the natural world.

Moving is natural to us. That’s why exercise makes us happy.

Spending time in nature is good for us. We can concentrate better.


7. Disconnection from a hopeful and secure future.

A larger framework for of significance.

Depressed people don’t have a sense of the future. They have a loss of future.

Insecure work create insecure people. 1 day contracts or no contract.. gig economy, not too glamorous for everyone.


8 & 9 :The real role of genes and brain changes.

Neuroplasticity : the brain changes depending how you use it. It’s the tendency for the brain to restructure itself after experience.

Genetics plays a role, but is not staring the show.

The caviat is that genes linked to depression can be triggered by certain environments. Your gene makes you more vulnerable but they don’t control your destiny.

Instead of diagnosing depression – diagnose disconnection?

Rumspringer: Amish 16 year olds spend ~2 years in regular society not needing to follow Amish rules. 80 percent come back. Coming back is voluntary, therefore Amish is not considered a cult.

“Chosen slowness ”

Amish is like a support group for resisting individualism. What weight watchers is for resisting snacking – the amish is resisting individualism.

Reconnect by voluntary programs and clubs.

Bjorns comment: For me it was toastmasters. Different people, common goal.

But depressed people cant do it on their own. It has to be prescribed. Someone need to help them get there. The depressed person just won’t do it by their own.

Top down organizations make the people low in the hierarchy depressed. They feel like cogs in the wheels and without control or influence.

Kids crave stuff… it hurts not to get them.

Björn comment: I dislike some of the solutions. It takes a stand that we are victims of advertisement etc.. well, kids might be. But should adults be able to handle that?

Envy and scarcity- another cause of depression.

‘Sympathetic joy technique’

Björns comment: It sometimes feel the book is written for someone who is depressed. Some Solution and causes can seem very obvious for someone who is not depressed or anxious; like being able to feel joy for other people’s success etc.

Meditation can be very beneficial to combat depression.

Loving kindness meditation.

Experience with LSD.

80 percent that was given the big dose of LSD said to have better relationships, more compassionate and more positive attitudes about themselves and about life. Just like people that meditate a lot!

Researcher gave psychedelic drugs to people that had struggled to quit smoking. 80% where smoke free 6 months after the test.

What does the psycadelics and feel meditation have in common:

“They both break our addiction to ourself”

Smoking becomes quite petty in the perspective of the whole.

Being free from the ego, for 25% of the testers, was terrifying!

“To people who feel safe only behind walls, dismantling them won’t feel like a jailbreak, it will feel like an invasion”

Experiments: doctors where asked to acknowledge a patients childhood trauma, with compassion, and listen without judgement if the patient wanted to talk about it.

This made a huge difference! Reduced shame. “A secular version of confession”

Shame makes you sick. Sealing of a part of yourself and thinking it’s disgusting is toxic to life

Universal income: started in late 70:s. Small town I Canada.

The poorer you are the more likely you are to become depressed and anxious. and to become sick.

Less mood disorder under universal basic income.

People have a secure future, companies need to incentivize people more to work with benefits etc. people felt like they had a choice.

What?! Just give out money?

ADHD was much lower because people spend more time connecting to their kids.

We can leave deadening jobs under universal basic income.

Book tip about gay marriage: ‘Virtually normal’

“The weekend” was mocked as an utopian idea when labour unions started to fight for it!

Universal basic income is possible.

Having fulfilling work is seen as a freak strike of luck, like winning the lottery.

“You are not a machine with broken parts you are an animal whose need have not been met.”


That’s it! Sounds cool? If you want more you can get the book right here! Also, don’t forget to check out more great reads at in my book lists.

Lab Report: Quitting the News

“If you get your view of the world from the news, you’re always going to think that we’re living in violent times.”

– Steven Pinker

What’s the message of the mainstream media? Be afraid! Stay inside! Out there are Isis, the 1% staling your money and clowns! No wonder we feel anxious and afraid even though we live in the safest era in human history.


The Lab Report – 006 – “Quit the News”

I stopped following the news about 3 years ago. I don’t read any newspapers, I don’t listen to the radio and I don’t follow any blogs or news feeds.

How has this experiment pan out?


Short term effects: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

– “Fear of Missing Out” might haunt you in the beginning – don’t worry, if it’s important (most news aren’t) you will hear about it.

– Fearmonger stories triggers stress and spikes your cortisol. Without these spikes you can enjoy a stronger immune system.


Long term effects: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

– Reduced fear and anxiety.

– Less drama, more focus.

– The media is experts at masking us feel concerned. Being concerned makes us feel like we are doing something while we’re not. Now you freed up time to do shit.


Sustainability: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

– You might work at a job where you’re unable to control news exposure i.e a places where TVs and radios on all the time.

– Social media feeds can be challenging to manage. I solved it by not looking at social media feeds.

– Ones your out off it, and if you pay attention to the positive effects, then it’s very hard to relapse.


FINAL VERDICT: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Quitting the news is the closest thing I’ve found to a silver bullet for improved happiness and inner peace. 👌🏻 ☯️

Of course you should not take my word for it. Think for yourself. And also -what is the counter argument to what I just said? 🧐 🤔

You Find More Lab Reports and Experiments Here!

Lab Report: Growing a Beard

I really like to try new things. actually, I originally started this site to be mainly about different small experiments I conduct (Reading a more books where one of there experiments. I guess that one stuck with me 😂). Here we go:


The Lab Report – 001 – “Beards”


Growing a full beard is something every man should try at least ones in their life if they have the genes for it. Why? Because you fucking can!

I’ve had a few smaller beard variations throughout my life but I’m never gone all the way before. With all the way I mean not shaving for 6 – 12 months (In beard circles this is called a “yeard” or a “half yeard” respectively). So I had to try it out and here is my report:


Short term effects: ⭐️

Itchiness is one downside of growing a beard. But it will pass rather quickly. Worse is the “awkward beard”- stage from about week 8 to month 3. This is the period where your beard looks like a patchy mess and you look like you’ve given up on life. This is where most people give up.


Long term effects: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

– People think you are wiser and more competent. (Probably because bearded men are portrayed in that way in popular culture).

– It’s harder to eat and drink.

– You can stroke your beard while thinking which unlocks extra cognitive abilities.

– Has some protective quality in blizzards.


Sustainability: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

– It takes a fair share grooming to maintain a respectable-looking beard.

– Makes eating greasy food close impossible. (Good or bad depending on you dietary goals)


FINAL VERDICT: ⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️

“Beards are great! Go get one!”

You Find More Lab Reports and Experiments Here!

Lab Report: Optimized Breakfast

About 18 percent of males and 13 percent of females in my age group are breakfast skippers (NPD 2011). I was one of those crazy people back in the day. The list of benefits for eating breakfasts are overwhelming (and too long to be listed here.) and you have not heard the end of the cliche that “breakfast is the most important meal of the day” anytime soon.

So, what is an optimized breakfast? For me it’s something you can throw together in minutes, has great nutrients and something you can eat everyday. Efficient, healthy and simple in other words.

Through some experimentation if found a breakfast that ticks all these boxes for me. Here are the ingredients:

– whole grain oats

– A mix of seeds (pumpkin, chia, linseed, sunflower)

– Blueberries and/or raspberries

– A ripe banana for sweetness

– Milk


Short term effects: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

– Promotes stable blood sugar levels throughout the day.

– Less decisions to make.

– Filling enough to last you until lunch.

– Quick to prepare.


Long term effects: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

– Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity!

– Saves time and energy!


Sustainability: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

– I think I have eaten the same breakfast everyday for 3 years now. I still look forward this meal every morning!

– The whole idea of eating the same thing every day might be a turnoff for people that crave variety.


FINAL VERDICT: ⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

– “So benefit, very breakfast, such nutrition!”

Find more experiments like these in the experiments archives.

Thoughts on: “Mutants” by Armand Marie Leroi

Spontaneous sex change, cyclops and mermaid syndrome and conjoined twins. The tall and the very short. Albinism and rapid aging. No stone is left unturned when Armand Marie Leroi’s takes us on a journey though the biology of the bizarre – and beautiful.

This book “..is not only about the human body as we might wish it to be, but as it is – replete with variety and error”.


📝 Mutation arise from errors made by the machinery that copies or repair DNA.

📝 “We are all mutants, but some of us are more mutant than others.”

📝 Clitoris = Penis

📝: ‘I do not want to be embarrassed by your black body at Daddy’s grave’ said her mother. Rita Hoefling was a white girl in the apartheid society of South Africa who suddenly turning black. At first she got subtle racist remarks and by the end of her transformation she was denied attending her own fathers funeral.. racism is dumb.

📝 Preformationists= They believed the egg contained the entire embryo (complete with limbs) and that embryo had itself it owns sperm or egg which in turn contained embryos ad infinitum.

📝 In conjoined twins the skew toward femininity is overwhelming: about 77 percent are girls. No one know why this is.

📝 Boys who are castrated before puberty grow up to be unusually tall.

📝 “Women of all cultures seem to prefer men who are on average five centimeters (about two inches) taller than themselves.”


The human body is amazing. This book feels like it celebration of the most haunting, weird and wonderful shapes the human body can take. It leaves me in awe.

4/5

What are you reading these days? 🤔📚

Check out more great books in the Reading Lists!

Lab Report: The Sock Experiment.

The Lab Report – 003 – “Socks Sucks”:

The motto is that you are not allowed to complain about not having “enough time” until you have certain systems in place that removes unnecessary complexity. Ones those are in place, then at least you have tried your best – And automation and simplification of everyday task is a good place to start.

Socks are a hassle – or to be more precise: to pair them is mindnumpingly boring and like all couples they break-up up, are gone for a whole and come back form new formation.

The idea is simple: buy all your socks at the same time and stick to one model. Ones a few of them starts to get worn the rest will usually follow, then throw all of them away and fill up with new ones. Repeat.


Short term effects: ⭐️⭐️

– Your closet becomes more bland.

Long term effects: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

– You avoid decision-making-fatigue by removing small everyday choices.

– Easy to do laundry. Pair however you want and you will still get a match.


Sustainability: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

– The drawback of having less variety can be remedied by having a small selection of colorful and cool on the side for special occasions.

– Shop big and seldom. Easy!


FINAL VERDICT: ⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️

– It just works! Easy to execute and sustain, but the positive impact is hard to measure.


Check out more The Archives for more Lab Reports!

Thoughts on: Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins

Goggins, Goggins, Goggins! This guy is proper crazy!

He managed to escape an abusive family situation and decided become a navy S.E.A.L. The problem was that he was overweight, uneducated and unprepared. This was the starting point for the man that grew to become one of (if not THE), toughest endurance athletes I’ve come across.


📝 About his abusive childhood home: “Glossy surfaces reflect much more than they reveal”. Great expression!

📝 “Motivation is bullshit.”

📝 “I brainwashed myself to craving discomfort”. Schedule suffering into your life.

📝 It’s funny, humans tend to hatch their most challenging goals and dreams, the ones that demands the most effort and promises absolutely nothing, when we are tucked into our comfort zones.

📝 Ran 100 miles without training, on broken legs, pissing blood.

📝 Had the world record for most pull ups in 24 hours in 2013 (4030).

📝 When you think you done your upmost you’re probably only at 40%.


⭐️ TAKEAWAY:

The most common excuse Goggins hears for not working out is that people don’t have time. We get it, we all got stuff to do. “You must win the morning” and master the dark hours, when your spouse and kids are asleep, he says.

So, how do I act on this? I’m waking up 05:30 for the coming 66 days. The extra time in the mornings will be used for exercise, meditation, reading and writing.

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⚖️ VERDICT:

This book made me add another 10km on my regular run last Sunday. There where two reasons: First, the book is really solid and I didn’t want to turn off the audiobook. Second, Goggins made me realize I’m not putting in even half the effort I could.

This book will challenge you to set the bar higher for yourself, If you can look past the Navy jargon..

What your morning routine? 🤔


4/5

📷 credit: @portlandpickers


Check out my reading lists for more great books!

Lab Report: The First 100 Days of Meditation

We keep reading about it; the most important endeavor one can undertake is self knowledge – “Know thyself” as the inscription reads at the Temple of Apollo – and what better way to start that examination than practice of meditation?

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The Lab Report – 005 – “Meditation:

The First 100 Days”

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The meditation style I do is Zazen. This first phase of the experiment is about establishing the habit of sitting everyday (I prioritize consistency over duration) and building up my capacity concentration.

I count each inhalation and exhalation starting from 1 and going up to 10, then repeat. Its easier said than done!

This meditation is done with open eyes. I started with 8 minute sessions and I’m now at ~20 min sessions and I’m gradually increasing the duration.


Short term effects: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

– It can be quite frustrating to observe when one’s mind wanders off.

– I dose off all the time.

– Observing one’s thoughts and “monkey mind” creates a gap between Me and my thoughts.

– Outside of meditation I feel that it is easier to catch myself when getting lost in thoughts and snap back to presence.


Long term effects: ❓❓❓

– Still unknown. I’m aiming for doing 365 consecutive days in this experiment, so it’s still to early to tell.


Sustainability: ⭐️⭐️ ⭐️

– I find activities like this one, that should be performed everyday, to be tricky. I only missed 1 day out of 100 so far. But the only way for me to achieve that was to make meditation my number one priority during this period. So that’s what I did.


FINAL VERDICT: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

It’s still the early days but I’m happy to have established a solid habit. But it can be a frustrating practice. I guess Being is hard when you are used to Doing. Still, I love taking a few minutes out of my day for self care!


Tell me about your experiences with mediation? 🤔

Find more experiments in the Experiment archives.