Life is a Game: Are you Playing Checkers or Chess?

Written by on December 4, 2018

I was really good at checkers when I was a kid. Also Connect 4 and Trivial Pursuit. Loved me some Trivial Pursuit. But, I never played chess. To tell you the truth I think I would have loved it had I ever gotten into it but I didn’t really understand the rules well the first time it was explained to me as a kid (I was 7 give me a break!) and I got a little intimidated.

“Wait, there’s a castle and a horse?”

Why don’t you call it a freaking (I was 7 so I wasn’t cursing like a sailor yet) castle or a horse?

A knight is a guy who wears armour and RIDES ON A HORSE. He’s not an ACTUAL HORSE. And why is the Queen stronger than the King and the King can only do one move? (this seemed very anti-boy to my 7 yr old brain)

I think somewhere in 7 yr old Daniel’s brain I dismissed chess as being silly and meaningless and overly complicated. I liked being good at checkers and Connect Four.

After all, I UNDERSTOOD the rules perfectly.

And I definitely did NOT understand the rules of chess.

That’s the weird and bizarre situation we find ourselves in as humans in the modern world. The idea that “life is a game” is an overused cliche but in this case, it’s very appropriate.

You see, for almost all of human existence, we understood the rules of the game very well. We lived in nature and nature provided everything we needed for small-scale populations to be healthy. Sure, there a war with a neighboring tribe or something might happen to your most important food source. Life was certainly not easy. But, it turns out, human health pre-agriculture was excellent if you could avoid some sort of acute cause of death (e.g. snake bite, murder, falling off a tree trying to escape pissed off bees as you jack some honey from their hive, etc.)

Why was this the case?

Well, in essence, we were living in environments we were really well-adapted to. We went to bed with the sun and woke up with the sun. We had no exposure to pollution. We had a sense of purpose and a tight-knit sense of community. We ate wild plants and animals. We had no chronic stress. We had no “diseases of modern civilization” (heart disease, metabolic syndrome, most types of cancer, autoimmune disease, etc.)

What modern science is showing us every day is that we humans currently suffer from what is called in biology “evolutionary mismatch.”

What does this mean in English? Essentially, this means that our genes expect an environment that we do not live in. Put another way, our genes expect that the “rules of the game” have largely gone unchanged since we were last hunter gatherers.

But most of us have no idea that this lack of understanding is causing virtually all of our modern health problems, our political and religious beliefs and divides, and our own existential suffering.

I spent about 15 years battling chronic illness. Through much of that journey, I played the games I knew how to play. I played Checkers and Connect Four. They were the games and strategies I knew. Many years into the journey I was sicker than I had ever been in my life and saw no light at the end of the tunnel. I had joint pain, brain fog, low libido, low strength, low testosterone, and many signs of chronic inflammation.

There are literally millions around the world in a similar situation because virtually none of us are taught how to be human. None of us are taught that life is an interesting and complex game but that there are rules, which, once learned, make a vibrant and healthy life possible. Essentially, life is a game of chess which can be full of good physical and mental well-being. Just not if you’re still playing checkers.

So if you’re still reading, here’s one of the rules of the game. Our genes expect us to have tons of exposure to natural light during the day and little to none at night, except for the amount that you’d get naturally from the moon and stars.

Solution: Get some blackout curtains, some blue-light blocking glasses, and a sleep mask and eliminate your screen usage an hour before bed. If you feel like reading, light a candle to mimic fire light and read a book or listen to some calming music before drifting off to bed. I guarantee your sleep will improve and because of that, so will your fat-burning ability!!

There are plenty of rules like this. So start thinking differently about the way you live your life. Are you playing life by the rules evolutionary biology has given us? Or are you just following the latest trend?

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