Smashing the Cage: Live The Unconventional Life

by Dr. Christopher on September 13, 2010

Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with their song still in them. ~Henry David Thoreau

Have you ever felt like you were meant to do something great?  That whatever you were doing was not satisfactory for the life you were meant to live?  That you felt as if your life held more than you weren’t tapping into?

I have felt this way for a while now and have kept my eyes open for any possible sign of where life is supposed to take me. 


A Probable Sign of Where Life is Going to Take Me

I recently had the pleasure of meeting Chris Guillebeau as he released his book The Art of Non-Conformity: Set Your Own Rules, Live the Life You Want, and Change the World in Mendham, NJ.  In the book, I asked him to sign it and tell me how I was going to “dominate” in life.  He wrote this:

To Chris – You’ll dominate by smashing the cage.  CG

While thinking how awesome those words sounded, I had no idea what they meant.  But I felt the greatest inspiration from our meeting as if I only have to act on my deepest wishes in order to create the life I imagine. 

The excitement started in a story that made sense of Chris’s comment.  This story is straight out of the book.  If you can hang in (no pun intended) there for this brief piece, you’ll see how we lock ourselves in a cage by unconsciously living conventional lives:

Have you heard the story of the five monkeys in a cage?  It goes like this.  Five monkeys are thrown in a cage by a sadistic monkey-hater.  Enough food and water is available at the bottom of the cage, saving them from starvation while forcing them to lead a boring life of staring through the glass every day.  The food at the bottom is bad, but sufficient.  At the top of the cage, however, a large stalk of bananas alluringly waits.  Conveniently, a ladder to the top has been provided by the sadist.

After getting over the shock of being caged, one of the monkeys scales the ladder and reachers for a banana.  All of a sudden a fire hose appears from nowhere.  The monkey at the top of the ladder is soaked with cold water, but not only him- all of the other monkeys are soaked as well, in an exercise of group punishment for the sins of one freedom-loving monkey. 

Over the next few days the experience repeats itself several times.  One monkey makes a run for the bananas, the whole troop of monkeys gets soaked, and pretty soon the group starts beating up any monkey brave enough to scale the ladder.  The bananas are still at the top, but just out of reach.  The monkeys reluctantly accept the fate of living a life without bananas.

Then one day the experiment changes.  The sadist takes one monkey out of the cage and replaces him with another one.  Not knowing the consequence of being doused with cold water, the new monkey immediately begins to scale the ladder in pursuit of a banana, the rest of the monkeys pull her down before she reaches the top, and the troop settles in again.

The next day another monkey is replaced, and then another, and the process repeats itself: the new monkey lunges for the bananas, gets pull down, and adapts.  After five days, no monkey from the original troop remains, and no monkey has ever been soaked with cold water- but every monkey knows they are not supposed to climb the ladder.  One of the monkeys finally asks, “Hey, why can’t we eat the bananas?”  The others shrug their shoulders and say, “We’re not sure-we just know we can’t.”  (pp.16-17)

After procrastinating on the amazing thoughts I’ve been having for months, I knew that the time for action was quickly approaching.

How to Smash the Cage

Chris Guillebeau and Tim Ferriss are two of my favorite people that I’ve discovered in the past six months.  Both discuss how to live the unconventional life.  One important thing I took from Tim Ferriss is how he manifests his dreams into reality.  He follows three steps to make this happen:

  1. Publicly declare/Goal setting: Makes his thoughts/wishes public (thereby holding himself accountable).
  2. Timing: Gives a deadline (usually in the near future to provoke stress and action).
  3. Do it: Starts acting to make thoughts/wishes real.

I’ve been a zombie for too long.  Here’s my public declaration.

I’ve wanted to write a book for a long time.  With so much conflicting information on health and a lack of knowledge of how to implement lifestyle changes, answers are needed.  Pain isn’t going anywhere and people continue to suffer.  You can expect an e-book on “How to Live A Pain-Free Life” by the end of 2010.

What about you?  Are you happy with the life you are living?  What do you dream of having in your life?  How can you break out of the cage?

My purpose for this blog is to educate people on how to achieve health.  But health is only a precursor, giving you the ability to achieve happiness and live for a purpose.  What is your purpose?  Because health without a purpose makes health not worth the effort.  Use the 3 steps above to challenge yourself and make at least one small, unconventional change in your life.

Lastly, how I can help you live a pain-free life?  Some thoughts that I have been having are:

  • the truth about health
  • proper movement and how we drift away from it towards pain
  • bang for your buck exercises that keep you lean, strong, and mobile, preventing degeneration
  • the optimal way to eat to increase health and decrease pain risk
  • everyday tips & practical application of lifestyle advice

Please comment below on how pain afflicts you (or how it affects/has affected your loved ones) and how it affects your everyday life.  What information would allow you to make changes that allow you to live a pain-free life?  Or if you’re more private, e-mail me [cstepiendc(at)gmail(dot).com].  It would be greatly appreciated.

Whatever your dreams are, start taking them very, very seriously. ~Barbara Sher

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Christopher September 13, 2010 at 10:12 pm

Interesting. As soon as I was done writing, I read this post about not sharing goals. Who’s right? In this case, only time will well.

Terry February 22, 2011 at 2:48 pm

I think it is good to share you goals if you do it for the right reason- to discuss, get help and gain insight from others, not to pat yourself on the back for your willingness to make a change. Like the the video clip said at the end, if you share you goals you need to do it in the right way, which means acknowledging the difficulty of the task ahead and recognizing inside that sharing is doing very little in achieving – there is still a lot of work to do. Being in touch with your goal and realistic about what it takes to achieve it probably also helps you to avoid falling in the trap the link mentions where once people share they get all the gratification they need and then stop pursuing their goal.

Christopher February 23, 2011 at 4:58 pm

Excellent point! I think you’re talking about me. At least I think you’re talking about me! As I’ve made changes with my habits, I constantly have to remind myself that actions speak louder than words. And that when I say I’m going to say something, I MUST do it in order to be a person of integrity. Thanks for making me reflect on this Terry. I needed that.

Terry March 6, 2011 at 12:33 pm

I was talking about myself too – everyone really.

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