18/11/2016 07:14 GMT | Updated 17/11/2017 05:12 GMT

A Human Operating System - Unlocking Optimal Health And Happiness

Are we fully optimised?

Wouldn't it be great if we came with a fully optimised human operating system? Just think how easy it would be, our operating system would tell us what to eat and when to exercise. It would help us make important decisions. And it would give us regular feedback, letting us know if we're on track to achieving our goals.


Photo from Flickr by user: russavia - modification made from colour to black and white and cropped to fit.

Well, as it turns out, we already have an operating system. In fact we have three, and they don't always get along. Over millions of years of evolution we developed three incredibly complex brains:

  1. A reptilian brain
  2. A mammalian brain
  3. A human brain
To negotiate life successfully we need to manage their often conflicting interests. Our reptilian brain governs our physiology and coordinates our 'freeze, fight or flight' response. Our mammalian brain is emotional and follows the laws of the jungle (I'll refer to it as the chimp brain). And our human brain is capable of forward planning and rational thought. To be healthy we need to use our human brain, the youngest and weakest of the three.

Picture yourself getting cut up by a white van whilst exiting a motorway. Your reptilian brain triggers an adrenal response that heightens your senses. Your chimp brain goes wild and wants to rip the guy's head off. And if you're lucky your rational human brain kicks in, telling you to calm down and carry on with your journey.

Another great example is our daily battle with sugary temptations. We find it hard to resist such delightful mouth-pleasure. Our inner chimp and reptile grew up a long time before supermarkets came along. As far as they see it, when food is about, you eat it. But our human should know better. We know we don't need that third biscuit but we just can't help ourselves! Unless we have a strong reason to say no thanks, our unconscious drives (our chimp) win every time.


Photo by James Ford

All throughout life there are battles between our three brains. These conflicts are often won by our older and more powerful primal brains. But wouldn't it be great if we didn't have to struggle like this? Perhaps there's an app for it? Something we could install to make our human brain more powerful?

We're all familiar with apps that we install onto our smartphones and I think one day we'll be installing apps straight to our brain! The first app I'd install is a Thinking app, making me a master decision maker. It would teach me how to manage my thoughts. It would teach me to develop the power of introspection with meditation and mindfulness training. And it would highlight my out of date cognitive biases and logical fallacies (lazy or unconscious thinking habits). Like the Ostrich Effect, the decision to ignore dangerous or negative information by burying one's head in the sand!

The next app I'd install is an Eating app. This app would teach me how to eat the right food for my metabolic type and send me alerts when I get it wrong. It would teach me how to eat slowly, mindfully and minimally. And it would encourage me to cook wholesome food for my friends, family and of course for myself.

The final app I'd need is an Exercise app. An app that encourages me to stay active throughout the day. It would provide me with the necessary dose of carrot and stick. It would tell me off if I sit down for too long. And it would provide me with purposeful strength and endurance challenges.

Technology hasn't created a fully integrated and optimised human operating system yet. So we must work with the one we have, which is pretty incredible by the way! We have to learn how our brains and bodies work so we can optimise them ourselves. It's a tough challenge that I've spent years trying to work out, and by no means have it mastered.


Photo from Pixabay by Honey Kochphon Onshawee CC. Modification made from colour to black and white and cropped to fit.

A year ago I decided to help others with their journey to self mastery. And since then I've been sharing lessons in health and happiness. As a reward for reading this blog I've put together an enlightening resource that you can download for free below.

I'm James Ford, a teacher from Sheffield, UK. I can help you unlock the health challenges of today by learning from our evolutionary history. I combine empirical science with the wisdom of the past. Only by studying the environment we evolved in is it possible to understand what is "good" for us.

There are many aspects of modern life that work against our evolved biology and psychology. In evolutionary science these are called evolutionary mismatches. A great example is our love of sweet sugary treats. In the past we relied on nature's sweet food to help us survive, today it puts us on the fast track to misery land!

So I've put together a PDF for you, highlighting six important evolutionary mismatches. Once you are aware of these mismatches you can make some adjustments to your lifestyle, helping you become the best version of yourself.

Knowledge is such a beautiful gift: it doesn't go off and it doesn't weigh anything so you can carry it with you wherever you go! Click here to access your free gift now -