The Human Manual
How to make sense of it all and
live a purposeful life
This Human Manual may help you live a long and purposeful life. It looks at how humans are built, function and sometimes malfunction, alone or in a society. Based on apolitical, non-commercial, scientific advice, it also leans on ancient wisdom and human experience.
The manual does not intend to give you all the answers, but rather open doors for deeper digging. In life, small changes can have a big impact. Use this manual to find small changes that may have positive impact for YOU!
Written by Julia Dujmovits & Chris Rynning
Cells are the basic structures of all living organisms. When you look at yourself you see an individual person, but if you understand the nature of who you are, you realize that you are a community of about 50 trillion living cells. Each cell is a living unit, a sentient being that has its own life and functions yet interacts with other cells in a community. Health is when there is harmony in the community and dis-ease is when there is a disharmony that tends to fracture the community. The cell is further constructed of organelles, cytoplasm, and the nucleus. The nucleus is a little bit like the brain of your cells. The cell membrane is like the skin of the cell, like you are the “skin” of all your microscopic cells. You are a community of cells, and your existence is both in the image of and contingent on the reproduction of cells.
Every cell in this body is programmed for health
You have about 80 organs or organ systems in your body, of which 5 are essential for your survival: brain, heart, kidneys, liver, and lungs. Your brain is your “control center”, receiving and sending signals all over your body through the nervous system, hormones and through chemical processes. Your heart makes sure you get oxygen from your lungs to your cells and have carbon dioxide removed from your body. Your kidneys and liver are both filters, but also regulate and protect your body with enzymes and hormones. Your cells and organs together compose a complex system depending on each other and how you maintain them.
For something to collapse, not all systems have to shut down. In most cases, just one system is enough. For example, the human body is a system of systems. If just one system, such as the cardiovascular system, shuts down, death follows
Chromosomes, DNa & Genes
These are often confused as the same thing, but they are different. In your cell nucleus you have chromosomes that are made of long strands of deoxyribonucleic acid or “DNA”. Your DNA has your genes which is a code determining what proteins your cells should make. Proteins make cells, cells make tissue, tissue make organs, and organs make you. Your genes determine what you are and how you look. Humans have decoded these strands of unique data, and soon we may start manipulating and combine them in new and unexpected combinations. Manipulations of DNA and our coding material may change bodies, classes, and the course of history - it can change everything as we know it – and you should explore where you stand on this issue.
At the deepest level, all living things that have ever been looked at have the same DNA code.
And many of the same genes
You have a community of bacteria, fungi and viruses that live on and inside your body. We call their genetic material your “microbiome” and they are beneficial “colonizers” mainly in your gut, where they help you with digestion and your immune system. Your mom and dad gave you your genes, but also passed beneficial bacteria to you. Your microbiome fights off other “would be” colonizers because there is not enough space for all of them. Somewhat counterintuitively, you should keep bacteria “on you” and search nutrition that can help balance your microbiome.
Have you ever heard a bacteria joke? Never mind.
I do not want to spread it around
— Name, Title
On average, you can expect to live for 72 years. Over the last centuries, average life expectancy has increased from less than 30 years to now over 72 years. In some places, like the “Blue Zones” of Okinawa, California and Sardinia, average life expectancy is above 80 years. The world’s health condition and overall “safety” is generally getting better and we are living much longer. Due to progress with vaccinations and medicines, humans can expect to live more than twice as long as our ancestors. Over the last decades, poverty has been dramatically reduced and quality of life, for example as measured by “guitars per capita,” has similarly been dramatically increased. You are living in a great time for humans, so take advantage of your lucky timing.
Here’s the paradox: the image of a dangerous world has never been broadcast more effectively than it is now, while the world has never been less violent and more safe
The universe is all of space and time and their contents, including planets, stars, galaxies, and all other forms of matter and energy. While the spatial size of the entire universe is unknown, it is estimated that the observable universe is 93 billion light-years in diameter, and you are in it. We do not know if there are other universes, other dimensions and what was before the universe. It is a beautiful and magnificent mystery that you can ponder and study. On a spiritual level, the universe is made up of experiences, your attachments, our clinging, pain, pleasure, fear, to all parts of life.
You are just a speck of dust in the universe
body & soul
Clearly the most complex part of you, your brain defines your intelligence, interprets your senses, initiates your body movements, and controls your behavior. Split in different parts with special properties, your body and brain are working together. The front brain holds your memories, allows you to plan, imagine and “think”, recognize friends, read books, and play games. The back controls most of your vital organs and movement. In your inner brain, your hypothalamus is an important emotional center, controlling chemical processes that make you feel exhilarated, angry, or unhappy. Much of you are controlled by biochemistry – heavily influenced by physical activity, nutrition, and your human connections.
There is no need for temples, no need for complicated philosophies. My brain and my heart are my temples;
my philosophy is kindness
Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers that carry signals between neurons (nerve cells) and your other cells. They affect both physical and psychological functions including your heart rate, sleep, appetite, mood, and fear. We do not know how many there are, but over 200 have been identified. Serotonin is thought to contribute to wellbeing and happiness, and low serotonin levels have been linked to depression. Dopamine is thought key to motivation and arousal, and oxytocin important for sexual arousal, recognition, trust, and anxiety. Balancing these chemicals will be a key task for you, it is doable and most likely best done naturally.
To think is to practice brain chemistry
Defined as you having choice in how you act or that you can make your own impeded decisions, “free will” is a contentious issue where experts cannot agree. Free will assumes that you can choose your behavior and that you are self-determined in your choices of what to do. There is a school of thought that “karma” is the residual effect of our emotions, thoughts, words, and actions that stays within our memory and influences your emotions, thoughts, words, and actions. What we thought or felt yesterday, sticks in our memory and influences what we think or feel today. The power to change your “karma” today may then be in our control, or you can argue you have free will. Some of our foremost neuroscientists and “thinkers”, like Sam Harris, think “free will” is an illusion. Much more research is needed on free will, and maybe you can use your “free will” to help with that?
If you pay attention to your inner life, you will see that the emergence of choices, efforts, and intentions is a fundamentally mysterious process
Intelligence is your capacity for logic, understanding, self-awareness, learning, emotional knowledge, reasoning, planning, creativity, critical thinking, and problem-solving. Humans often try to measure it through the ability to perceive or infer information, and to retain it as “knowledge” applied in a certain environment or context. It is becoming increasingly clear that you can increase your intelligence by improving your cognitive skills, logical reasoning through exercise, the company you keep, the food you eat and how much sleep you get. Put another way, you can become smarter by eating healthier, surrounding yourself with inspiring people and by exercising.
I believe alien life is quite common in the universe,
although intelligent life is less so.
Some say it has yet to appear on planet Earth
Performance never starts with “performance” and motivation never starts with “motivation”. Performance is the heart’s desire or the will to make the decision to “do” things. Only through the process of doing, the most powerful motivation will follow. Focus is one-pointedness of mind, meaning you can channel your thoughts towards one direction. Your will to focus is bigger than any distraction. It is a challenge! How can you master this challenge? The answer is FLOW. In positive psychology, also known as being in the zone or in flow, is the mental state in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus or full involvement in the activity. Flow most often occurs when your skill level and the challenge at hand is balanced.
How to get to flow state:
● Set your goal
● Make the decision to focus
● Do! Refocus, over and over again. Use your willpower, force yourself to one-pointedness
● Let go of willpower, just focus and “be” in the moment of your task
Try this breathing technique to increase your ability to focus:
● Close your eyes – focus on your breath
● Decide to challenge yourself to stay fully focused for one minute
● Close your eyes: turn your focus inward and be aware of your breath
● Watch your thoughts
● One-pointedness: Focus only on your breath
● Inhale 4 seconds, exhale 6 seconds for one minute (that is 6 inhales and 6 exhales)
● Force yourself to come back to the thought of breath over and over again
● After the one minute let go of focus. Decide to let go and just be. Stay there 30 seconds
● Repeat once a day!
The best moments in our lives are not the passive, receptive, relaxing times … The best moments usually occur if a person's body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile
Stress is a common feeling of not being able to cope with specific demands and events. If your brain perceives danger or predators, it will produce adrenaline, also known as epinephrine or the so-called “fight-or-flight” hormone. Adrenaline will increase your heartbeat, your breathing and send blood to your muscles. Your mind will also signal production of cortisol, releasing glucose to your blood and dampening your immune system providing powerful responses to challenges/danger. Longer time periods with cortisol may cause weight gain, insomnia, lack of energy and a weakened immune system. To deal with stress, you should manage yourself, not your stress. You can influence your body and mind; therefore, stress is something you can control, starting by removing yourself from people or situations causing you stress. Moreover, you should try different breathing techniques, meditation, do physical activity. It will work wonders.
Stress is not a part of your life. Stress is just your inability to manage your own system
Anger is an emotion that can motivate you to act quickly and forcefully. Expressing anger can be a way to stand up for rights and promote change, especially when you think something is unfair. Problems arise when the emotion releases tremendous energy, controls you and may lead to negative actions such as emotional, verbal, or physical abuse. The “fight-or-flight” response is a physiological reaction that helps you respond to a harmful event, attack, or a threat to your survival. Anger can keep you alive, but also get you in trouble. You will benefit greatly from avoiding situations or people that make you angry, but also you will benefit from learning how to respond to anger. Taking a minute to breathe is a great de-escalation tool that always work.
Anger is like a storm rising up from the bottom of your consciousness. When you feel it coming, turn your focus to your breath
Thich Nhat Hanh
A trauma is an emotional response to an event or an experience that may have been deeply distressing or disturbing to you. If you experience a trauma, it can cause a lasting impact on your mental and emotional stability. Trauma releases stress-responsive neurochemicals such as norepinephrine and endogenous opioids in your brain. The 3 phases of trauma recovery you want to consider are a) safety and stability; b) remembering and grieving; and, c) restoring yourself and your relationships. Recovering from a trauma include “empowerment”: You might worry that you’ll never be the same as you were before a traumatic incident, but the trauma you endured doesn’t need to define who you are. You are not the trauma and full recovery is possible.
There are wounds that never show on the body that are deeper and more hurtful than anything that bleeds
Laurell K. Hamilton
Laughter makes you feel good and puts you in high spirits. Did you know that laughter causes physiological responses that protect the body from disease and help your vital organs repair themselves? Laughter is an emotional medicine that reduces stress, anger, and loneliness. It is hard to feel negative emotions while laughing, and reduces your stress level, eases your anxieties, and releases endorphins. Laughter increases your energy level, and helps you engage with other humans socially - which allows you to be less overwhelmed, more spontaneous, and far more confident. Laughing every day improves your mood, making your relationships with others more meaningful and effortless, while life's many hurdles will not seem so daunting. Your body, mind and soul will reap the health benefits of this natural and free medicine.
I love people who make me laugh. I honestly think it's the thing I like most, to laugh. It cures a multitude of ills.
It's probably the most important thing in a person
Humans do not fully understand or agree what consciousness really is. Most will agree that consciousness refers to awareness of yourself, your unique thoughts, memories, feelings, sensations, and the world around you. Some scientists talk of “lower consciousness” being focused on immediate surroundings and your “reptilian brain,” while “higher consciousness” is linked to our brain’s “neocortex”, a place of imagination, creativity, less bias, empathy and impartial judgement. We need to study consciousness further. Ram Dass, a late spiritual teacher, and psychologist argued that you can increase consciousness through actions you take. Consciousness is separate from intelligence, and while machines now may be more intelligent than humans, so far, we are not aware of machines having consciousness. Some experts think machines will have consciousness soon, which we humans better urgently discuss and decide how to deal with.
Man's task is to become conscious of the contents that press upward from the unconscious
Mental health includes our own emotional, psychological, and social well-being. Your mental health affects how you think, feel, and act. More than 1 in 4 people globally will report to have some form of mental health issue during their lives, so it is quite common. Depression, sadness, or anxiety will determine how well you can handle stress, relate to others, and make optimal choices. Mental health challenges are quite evenly distributed among men and women, and the age group of 18-25 seems to be growing most rapidly in terms of reported challenges. The best medicine for mental health challenges is a healthy diet, a good portion of physical activity and finding meaningful human relationships.
What mental health needs is more sunlight, more candor,
and more unashamed conversation
Depression is a persistent feeling of sadness and sometimes loss of interest. Depression is normal and affects how you feel, think, and behave. Being sad is not the same as having depression. Being depressed lasts longer than sadness or grief, and often includes self-loathing, loss of confidence and loss of appetite. Fortunately, depression can be treated by activity, nutrition, well defined human relations and often it can be helpful with therapy and medicines. There is absolutely no shame in being depressed. If you feel you may be depressed, talk about it with friends or family so you can get help or see a professional that will be able to help you quickly. No need to worry, you can handle this.
Anger is energizing. The opposite of anger is depression, which is anger turned inward
Physical activity will help you live longer, prevent chronic diseases, and improve your overall quality of life. Staying active will most definitely lower your risk of heart diseases, high blood pressure, strokes, type 2 diabetes, and many types of cancer. Working out maintain the chemical balance in your body, boosts your immune system and act as a natural mood lifter. Activity will release endorphins in your brain that will sharpen your memory and concentration, provide you with higher self-esteem, and generally a lot more energy. You do not have to work out hard or for long to reap the benefits, small things that raise your heart rate every day is best. All you need to do may be to walk instead of drive or take the stairs instead of the lift. Little things with big impact.
Training gives us an outlet for suppressed energies created by stress and thus tones the spirit just as exercise conditions the body
Biking is a low impact aerobic exercise that offers a wealth of benefits. It also varies in intensity, making it suitable for all levels. Cycling is a wonderful workout that keeps you active and can help you shape a healthy and happy lifestyle, both physically and mentally. You can bike outdoors and indoors, online, or offline, alone or with others. Biking is great for you, but watch out for traffic and always, always wear a helmet, at least outdoors.
It is the unknown around the corner that turns my wheels
Skiing and snowboarding are thrilling activities and great workouts. Both sports are excellent cardiovascular exercises that strengthen the heart. Cardiovascular or aerobic exercises also work to reduce your risk for chronic diseases, and lower blood pressure. They also help you maintain a healthy body weight. If you do yoga, climb mountains, train hard and long enough, you might even win an Olympic gold medal. Your next chance is the Beijing winter Olympics in 2022.
Being one with nature, experiencing flow state and playing with the forces – the beauty of snowboarding. Moments where time does not exist
When climbing you use lots of muscle groups, both in the upper and lower body. Climbing improves stamina, endurance, muscle strength, ﬂexibility and agility. Climbing can also improve your self-esteem, mental agility, and self-awareness as it involves a lot of problem solving, mental concentration and focus. You can also develop strong friendships with your climbing partners due to the level of trust involved and through sharing challenges and experiences.
We are apes - we should be climbing
Self-defense techniques help you build confidence, work on your balance, improve self-discipline and your physical conditioning. Done the right way it also improves your street awareness and can teach you self-respect. In the worst- or best-case scenario, self-defense may be the difference between life and death – so make sure you learn how to defend yourself. Self-defense techniques like judo, karate or taekwondo will boost upper- and lower-body flexibility, strength, and balance by training the sensory neurons in the inner ear and stretch receptors in the muscles and ligaments. Sting like a bee if you have to.
It's the bullies who are afraid, are the ones that do all the fighting. It's not the secure kids that get out there and fight. It's the insecure kids
Hiking is one of the absolute best ways to get exercise. No matter what type of trail you find yourself on, hiking is a great whole-body workout, from head to toe and everything in between. Spending quality time outdoors reduces stress, calms anxiety, and lowers the risk of depression. Being in nature will also intensify your desire to not pollute or destroy the natural environment, leaving it intact for later generations. Do it as often as you can and take your trash with you.
A walk in nature walks the soul back home
Identifying your own values, your deepest heart desires, brings purpose and meaning into your life and can serve as a great motivator for you (and others). Living in congruence with your own set of values leads to feelings of well-being, alignment, fulfillment, and happiness. Values define the basis about how you want to relate, act, or behave. What do you want to stand for? What sort of person do you want to be? What sort of personal strengths and qualities do you want to cultivate? What do you want to do? How do you ideally want to behave? Many values are innate, and you do not need biblical books or commandments to figure it out. Make a mental list of your values.
To love our neighbor as ourselves is such a truth for regulating human society, that by that alone one might determine all the cases in social morality
Philosophical reflection is above all a call to humility to reflect over and find solutions to challenges that may be beyond our control. In a world faced with its complexity, philosophies are mental frameworks for understanding and reflecting about yourself and the universe itself. It is the rational, abstract, and methodical consideration of human existence and experience. Many major historical figures in philosophy have tried to find answers to what, if anything, makes life meaningful. What is the meaning of your life? What does “good” or “bad”, “success” or “purpose” in life mean to you? You may or may not find exact answers, but the search itself will send you onwards to a life that matters.
The greater the difficulties encountered the greater the need for philosophy to make sense of questions of peace and sustainable development
Religion is an organized collection of beliefs, cultural systems, and world views that claim to relate humanity to an order of existence. Many religions have narratives, symbols, and sacred histories that are intended to explain the meaning of life and/or to explain the origin of life or the universe. From their beliefs about the cosmos and human nature, people try to derive morality, ethics, religious laws, or a preferred lifestyle. According to some estimates, there are roughly 4,200 religions in the world, and there is no evidence that any one of them are “correct”. Tread very carefully.
The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time
There exists no evidence that you were “created”, but there is overwhelming evidence that you evolved from the same offspring of life as all living things on earth today. The evidence includes similarities and differences in bone structures, DNA sequence of genes, biogeographical patterns, fossil records and not least current observations of microbes and insects that evolve over relatively short time periods. You are very, very, very closely related to the Chimpanzee.
We are the representatives of the cosmos; we are an example of what hydrogen atoms can do, given 15 billion years of cosmic evolution
Humans probably started to live together in groups to fend off danger, find food and cooperate to take down prey bigger than themselves. Men and women also needed to form alliances to produce children. The humans that formed a strong network of support or community, often fared better with emotional and physical health compared to staying alone. Modern science provides evidence that you too will benefit from relating to other humans in a society, or a community.
Our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this planet. We all breathe the same air.
We all cherish our children's future.
And we are all mortal
John F. Kennedy
You are better off living in a tribe or in a community as opposed to all alone. As a group you will have to make decisions and enter into agreements so that you can better coexist. These social agreements and the basis of how they are formed is called politics. There are different political systems and thoughts on what are best for happiness, prosperity, and progress of a human community. You should educate yourself on the options and get involved in politics as it can help you determine the best course of action for yourself, family, and community. There is slim or mixed evidence for what political systems work best, yet social democracies seem to have gained universal acceptance providing a good balance of equality, healthcare, education, peace, and freedom.
One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors
Family & Friends
Together with common ancestors one has a family. A family can “stick up for each other” when under pressure, and stay with you through sickness and health, failure, and success. Studies show that supportive relationships can be a strong protective factor against mental illnesses, provide emotional support, increase economic well-being, and promote overall health, but the opposite can also be true. If family and friends provide you stress and conflict, then your health will be negatively affected. Research indicates better self-esteem as an adult if you had an affectionate relationship with your family when you were young, while new research suggests that friendships become more important to us than family as we age.
I'll tell you what I'm grateful for, and that's the clarity of understanding that the most important things in life are
health, family and friends, and the time to spend on them
There are no races, we are all Africans. Our species, “homo sapiens,” evolved from Africa possibly some 300,000 years ago. Tiny tweaks in our “DNA”, the code of life, emerged as some groups started to leave Africa around 60,000 years ago. As these groups travelled, slight mutations and adaptations to new environments emerged, like skin color, tolerance to breathing low-oxygen air and different diets. There is no scientific evidence that “race” exists, we are basically all “Africans” and other thoughts are mainly a “human construct” that we need to break down.
I believe there is only one race, the human race.
You may have heard that “men are from Mars and women are from Venus”. However, our brains are more alike than they are different, like the liver or a kidney, the brain is pretty much a unisex organ. Men and women are equally intelligent, mainly with individual differences. Much of the differences in behavior and performance between sexes are strongly shaped by socialization. Women tend to be more empathic than men and excel at locating and remembering objects in a visual field. Men tend to be more sexually jealous, to better rotate dimensional objects in their mind, and to be more physically aggressive/homicidal compared with women.
Achieving gender equality requires the engagement of women and men, girls and boys. It is everyone's responsibility
Being mentored or to mentor others can be a way to enrich your potential, improve performance and develop your skills. Mentoring should be a trusted relationship with a meaningful commitment to mutual personal or professional growth. The origins of mentoring can be traced back to ancient Greece as a technique to impart to young adults important social, spiritual, and personal values. Mentoring is important, not only because it passes knowledge, but can be the best way to avoid making mistakes in life and business. Having a mentor can guide you through many of life’s intricacies. Simply put, no matter where you are in life, you do not need to develop all alone.
If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants
Friendships add to the fullness of life and are vital for your wellbeing. There is an understanding that the binding together of people in friendship helps each of us define and realize a meaningful life. Friendly actions and reactions cause us to go beyond just being you and me. Through friendship you can connect with something greater than yourself. A healthy friendship can “lift some of the burden from our apparently unhappy, isolated selves”.
Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art.... It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival
Failure is a great blessing that you can use! Everyone fails. Whenever something hurts you, there are two options, you can either become wounded or you can become wise, this is your choice. For many, fear of failure is paralyzing and holds them back from trying something new, taking a risk, or taking a step towards their goals. Fear of failure may be a small hurdle, though, ironically enough. Fear of success, the somewhat counter-intuitive concept that we fear achieving what we want to achieve, may be more subtle, harder to recognize, and more real than you think.
Life knows no failure. Failure exists only for those who are always comparing themselves with others
Your best option if treated unfairly is to stay positive, not falling into negativity, and if a reaction is necessary, react with calmness and rational thinking - not anger. Dwelling on injustice may “blow things out of proportions” and magnify your feelings to a point where you are more focused on your problems than on the possible solutions. You cannot change the past, but you can control how you handle a situation. Correcting injustice requires calmness, careful planning, and then action.
As long as poverty, injustice and gross inequality persist in our world, none of us can truly rest
At some point in life, you may experience that you have “ill-wishers”. An early step is to identify and understand people that wish you harm. If you have possibly done something wrong, then apologize genuinely. Respect them, see if there is anything that you can do to help them. If you have apologized and offered help, and there is still hostility, then step away and forget them. If they continue to bother you, tell them politely to stop, and rather surround yourself with people that make you happy and understand you.
It is easy enough to be friendly to one's friends. But to befriend the one who regards himself as your enemy is the quintessence of true religion.
The other is mere business
As you grow older, change may become more difficult because you may have built cocoons of comfort around you. It is human to create many comfort zones. When you are young, you are not (primarily) looking for comfort, you are looking for life, adventure, and exploration. You should never stop seeking development, not comfort and safety in of itself. The more security oriented you are, the more disturbed you will be with change that happens in your life. The very essence of physical existence is change. If you are part of the physical process of existence – everything is “change”. Do not resist change, be prepared for change, and endorse it as one of your elements of life, also to avoid unnecessary suffering.
If you resist change, you resist life
MEDICINE AND TREATMENT
Food is a powerful medicine with scientifically proven effectiveness on your body. While many diets may work for you, the key is finding one you like and can stick to in the long run. Medical science is clear about the dietary patterns that can help prevent or even reverse many of the chronic ailments you are exposed to. The “wrong” food can break you down and kill you, surprisingly fast. Conversely, the “right” food can heal you and make you feel great. Conclusively you should eat mainly plants, the natural stuff. Stay away from ultra-processed food not grown sustainably, they really can kill you. Look for nutrition, do not count calories, that sucks. Do not overeat, you need less than you think.
Plant based food is the best source for both a balanced body and a sustainable lifestyle