Use It or Lose It

In the wild, doing whatever it takes to conserve energy is a crucial survival mechanism. But in a world where all our needs are met, it makes us very lazy and fragile.

We all know this, but our solution is usually to dedicate time to “train” our body and brain. Much of the training is domain dependent. (Head nod to Nassim Taleb on this concept.) It only makes us better at that specific task. For example, brain-training games only make us better at that game. Bicep curls make us better at curling weight with perfect grips that you would rarely encounter in the real world.

Domain independent activities, on the other hand, make us more resilient across many fields. For example, squats and other heavyweight compound movements, translate to other activities like wheelbarrowing dirt around your garden. Practicing mathematical proofs teaches us how to break down complex things into their fundamental parts; something useful when planning complex work projects.

It makes sense then to focus our dedicated training to domain independent activities. Then use our everyday lives to integrate domain dependent training. Even better, the holy grail is to integrate domain independent activities into our everyday lives.

Arguably “useless” activities that you do for the sake of doing them are exempt from this philosophy, e.g., playing the piano.

Below is just a quick example of seemingly mundane domain independent and dependent activities that make us more resilient (and, to some degree, antifragile) with little adjustment.

  • Set all passwords to letters and special characters that you struggle to type without looking instead to ASDFJKL-laden characters
    Benefits/other domains: improve keyboard navigation and finger dexterity
  • In the moment, memorize the 4 digit bulk food “walnuts” code instead of writing it on the twisty label
    Benefits/other domains: improve ability to chunk information, less time in bulk food aisle, practice keeping multiple things in your head
  • Build a mental model of the city in your head instead of relying on your phone GPS
    Benefits/other domains: less phone reliance, improve hippocampus health, spatial memory, and situational awareness
  • Take the stairs everywhere. I can’t think of a more effective way of keeping you young.
    Benefits/other domains: get places quicker, improve cardio health, mood, and hiking endurance
  • Shovel snow by hand instead of using a snow blower
    Benefits/other domains: save money, improve cardio and muscular health, increase cold adaptation
  • Carry a grocery basket instead of pushing a cart
    Benefits/other domains: improve arm and grip strength, less time in grocery store
  • Use a fork with your non-dominant hand
    Benefits/other domains: increase weak hand dexterity, appreciate our fine motor skills
  • Use a map and compass while hiking instead of a phone app
    Benefits/other domains: improve presence and situational awareness, emergency navigation, less phone reliance
  • Absorb beautiful moments with your senses instead of taking photos/videos
    Benefits/other domains: improve appreciation, presence, and situational awareness

What are more examples of what you can do through your everyday lives that make you a better you?

Use It or Lose It

One thought on “Use It or Lose It

  1. Remember phone numbers (maybe don’t save them) instead of just depending on your phone book.

    Don’t use your phone navigation when driving, learn the route before hand even outside of your own city and carry a map for back up.

    Make up a kids story instead of reading one from a book.

    Get creative and use your skills and knowledge for making new recipes instead of going by the book every time to cook or bake something new

    Throw the ball with your non dominant hand and try to sit down and shoot a basketball only using your core and arm strength

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