The RARE SENSE Manifesto
The theory and practice of mind fitness
This is the second article I’m publishing on Substack, but it really should have been the first. I want to dive into RARE SENSE, why I feel it’s important, and how it might help you.
At its core, RARE SENSE is a mind fitness theory and practice. It’s primarily based on lessons I learned while working for years to overcome my own mental health and chronic illness issues. Throughout this journey, I saw dozens of practitioners, ingested thousands of supplements, racked up hundreds of pages of lab results, read countless books, and tried all sorts of unorthodox treatments. It was an experience that taught me one critical lesson - the extent to which many of the solutions to my problems were within the power of my mind. RARE SENSE represents the application of that key learning, based upon the best practices I’ve found, into a structured and cohesive mental health approach.
However, I prefer to use the term “mind fitness.” It’s proactive, positive, and doesn’t carry any of the connotations or baggage associated with “mental health.” Moreover, I hope that RARE SENSE has applications beyond the limitations of that term, even with issues that affect our collective minds as a species. Trends like our increasing penchant for sequacity, our declining commitment to basic human decency, and our propensity for anger driven by physical isolation and ideological tribalism. I worry that we are allowing ourselves to devolve mentally. Reversing course requires an intelligent conversation outside the domain of politicians and pundits. This starts with a RARE SENSE mentality.
Throughout any forthcoming content, I will not claim to be able to treat or cure anything. I’m not a doctor or a psychiatrist. Nor am I discrediting the expertise of people with those titles. I simply assert to be a sufferer who’s been down nearly every rabbit hole and tried almost any potential remedy over the last decade. I think that counts for something in the realm of credibility regarding the concept I’m presenting here. You don’t need a fancy degree or license to inquire within, be not dumb, and figure it out.
I’ve also found more solace and inspiration in the voices of the afflicted than the accredited. Hopefully, I can motivate others to speak up too, so that we might collectively express an attitude of courage, tenacity, and unity. After all, we’re the ones in the arena. As Maximus says in “Gladiator,”
We’ve got a better chance of survival if we work together. Do you understand? If we stay together, we survive.
RARE SENSE isn’t a me thing. It’s a we thing.
Lastly, remember that the ultimate power is yours regardless of what you read here. A great counselor is essentially helping you help you. Words themselves possess no salubrious or deleterious effects. We as individuals possess the extent to which any advice has on our thoughts and actions.
But no matter who you are, I think you might find RARE SENSE useful to improve your own mind, that of those around you, and maybe even for us all to perform better as humans. So without further ado, let’s start with a brief overview of its basic tenets.
The Current Paradigm
Everybody understands the importance of physical fitness. The healthier our bodies, the more capable we are, and the more enjoyable our lives can become. This classic approach is based on three factors: diet, exercise, and recovery. It’s a simple model. Eat well, work out, get enough sleep, and barring any diseases, you’ll be healthy.
But recently, a new term has come into fashion – “human performance.” The idea is to level up physical health; to optimize it through various dietary and workout regimens, bio-hacks, and technology like wearables and trackers.
Finally, alongside this evolution is an emerging trend of mindfulness and meditation as an adjunct to the traditional view. Taken in total, the current paradigm looks something like this:
Such a model works for many people. But it’s one that mainly focuses on our bodies, despite the rather obvious fact that what makes us the dominant species on Earth isn’t our physical make-up. Innumerable animals are more impressive in that category. They’re faster, stronger, and more powerful. Some can fly, and others can breathe underwater. In fact, there isn’t a single fundamental physical characteristic where humans rank at the top of the chart.
Homo Sapiens rule the planet because of our minds. No other living thing even comes close in terms of mental capacity. Therefore, we cannot reasonably take a slant on human performance that largely ignores this fact and almost exclusively concentrates on our physical well-being.
We also can’t think of mental development as purely limited to mindfulness. Meditation is a great practice. But it’s only one of several components that make up overall mind fitness.
Lastly, and maybe most importantly, absolutely everything we experience is ultimately a mental construct. Whatever you are doing to build your body, your mind creates both the input and the output. If we are going to take human performance seriously (and we should), we must view it with an attitude of “mind first” and find ways to be mentally fit as a primacy.
A New Paradigm
The path to genuinely optimized human performance sees the old factors of diet, exercise, and recovery as supportive of physical health via mental health. Looking through this lens (and considering the basic fact that our brains control our bodies and absolutely everything we do), physical fitness is actually a result of mental fitness. By taking the existing paradigm and flipping it on its head (both literally and figuratively), we can shift the focus of our fitness regimens to our minds. And by adding the components of mental orientation and development, we can round out the model and achieve a holistic approach to mind fitness and human performance.
The beauty of this construct is that it also reinforces itself. It’s cyclical. Better mind fitness improves the behavior that created it in the first place. This new paradigm is broken into three modules, each of which contains three parts:
Orient (Breathe, Focus, Notice)
Develop (Learn, Solve, Create)
Maintain (Nourish, Move, Recover)
The final piece of the puzzle is Locate, which overlays the entire construct. We are always in some kind of physical setting. To the greatest extent possible, we want to make it something healthy. Natural if possible. Things like sunlight and fresh air are not only good for you, but they’re also crucial. And you can expose yourself to them during any of the above. Get outside.
Taken together, our new paradigm looks like this:
I’ll detail what each of these pieces means in future content and lay out actionable measures to execute against them. For now, here’s a rough overview.
One of the most important things we can do to optimize our mental performance is orient our minds properly every day. This can be done by creating a morning routine that includes breath work, mindset establishment, and a simple meditation practice. This process can then be repeated throughout the day as needed and even incorporated into “normal” life.
If our minds are oriented well, we then need to develop them. This involves a daily routine of education, skills-based learning, artistic expression, and problem-solving. Our minds can’t grow without being challenged, and it’s here where most mindfulness practices fall short of a complete mental fitness picture. It’s not enough to simply be aware of our thoughts. We want to also think better through learning, creating, and figuring things out.
Our brains are just another organ in our bodies. And your mind won’t operate efficiently and effectively if your brain isn’t healthy. Staying up all night eating junk food on your couch obviously isn’t a recipe for success. Luckily the same basic formula for a healthy body creates a fit mind. Many of us already have a physical fitness routine and simply need to ensure it supports mental fitness as well.
You may have noticed that I used “routine” in all three paragraphs above. This was intentional. One of the key learnings I’ve found through proper mind orientation is that we are nothing more than a collection of patterns. Routine behavior, in essence, makes us. Establishing habits that coincide with the Orient, Develop, and Maintain modules is critical to the success of the RARE SENSE philosophy.
This means we need proper training. Everyone understands that people exist on a spectrum of physical fitness, from an elite athlete to someone who is morbidly obese. To move in a positive direction along that spectrum (or maintain your current level) requires consistent effort. Conversely, many of us approach mental fitness as if it’s a yes/no issue – like you either have mental health problems or you don’t. This is simply untrue. Mind fitness exists on a spectrum as well and similarly requires regular practice.
It’s time we evolve how we think about our minds and their development. This isn’t just about people with mental health “problems.” It isn’t just about meditation. It’s about understanding that our entire existence is a mental construct. Everything starts with thought.
Let’s redefine how we perform as humans. Let’s value the health of our minds and develop them through a habitual training regimen. Let’s understand how we think and think better. Let’s seek a way to truly optimize our consciousness to benefit not only ourselves but also the collective good through awareness, understanding, and wisdom.
This is RARE SENSE. The pursuit of mind fitness. If that interests you, stay tuned. And spread the word.
DISCLAIMER: None of the ideas expressed here should be construed as medical or psychiatric advice. They are not intended to diagnose or treat any condition or disease. Nor do they represent the official position or opinions of any organization or persons outside of RARE SENSE. If you suffer from a mental or physical disorder or illness, please seek assistance from a licensed professional.