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Discover Your Superpowers

I recently watched The Incredibles 2 with my family. For those of you unfamiliar with this movie, it is a Disney animated film about a family with various superpowers. The family tries to fit into normal society while saving the world from evil doers in their spare time. Their powers range from disappearing, to extreme elasticity, to super strength, to lightning fast speed of movement. While Superhero stories can be fun and entertaining, I am not a big fan of stories that promote supernatural abilities or occurrences. I consider it intellectually lazy story telling and insulting to the amazing natural abilities we humans actually possess. Each of us has the capacity for a variety of breathtaking natural abilities, whether they be physical, intellectual, emotional, or some combination thereof. In order to optimize our "powers", we must both nurture our abilities and treat our bodies and minds in ways that allow us to thrive.

Supernatural abilities in stories and myths allows the storyteller to make virtually anything happen to advance their story. Whether it is a human that can fly or an anthropomorphized animal(ex. Ants or mice that can talk and act like humans) or gods who can perform all manner of fantastic feats, supernatural people and acts are cheap instruments in plot lines used to explain the unknown or confer superiority or consciousness to certain characters. Instead of humans acting in the natural world to solve problems using their considerable talents, and in spite of their shortcomings, we are told that gods or superheroes or talking bears are superior (or at least equals in the case of talking bears) at making the world better.

Of course, nothing "super"-natural actually exists. By it's very definition, the supernatural is outside of the boundaries of the natural world. No talking toys. No Superheroes. No wizards, or schools for wizards. No Isis, or Zeus, or Zoroaster. The natural world is all we have. Within the natural world, we humans have evolved over millions of years. We evolved to survive and to thrive both to propogate our species and make our own existences better. Although humans have some seemingly disadvantageous attributes(weak backs, flat feet, slow maturity cycles, muscular weakness compared to our primate ancestors, etc.), we have evolved some amazing features and capabilities as well. We have large brains capable of long term intellectual pursuits, love, and incredible determination and focus. Our bodies are amazingly adaptable and can survive on a variety of food from seal meat in the arctic to insects in tropical jungles and everything in between. While we cannot leap tall buildings in a single bound, we are able to travel hundreds of miles on foot and thousands of miles in vehicles we have dreamed up and built. We can live and thrive for potentially 100 years or more. We nurture our young and care for our families and communities.

Some of us have learned to optimize our human capacity and have become Olypmic champions, chess grandmasters, wealthy entrepreneurs, and more. However, even if being an Olympic sprinter or a rocket scientist is not in your future due to your genetic makeup (Note: I would not even qualify for race-walking or rocket derby), you can still harness your considerable personal powers by following a few key practices.

First, you must work on what you want to accomplish. In his book Outliers, Malcom Gladwell says that in many fields of endeavor, it takes at least 10,000 hours of practice to develop expertise. If you want to be an expert computer programmer or a champion mountain biker, both of which seem like superpowers to many, you have to put in thousands of hours of focused practice.

Second, you must nurture your body and brain for top performance. You need to sleep a lot (7 hours per night minimum, but 8 or even 9 hours is ideal). You need to eat an ancestrally appropriate diet of clean protein sources, healthy fats and fruits and vegetables. You have to stop smoking and minimize alcohol and drugs. You must move, a lot, every day, albeit at a slow pace. Our ancestors were hunter gatherers and evolved to move daily to find food. If you don't move your body will degrade. We also must stress our muscles once in awhile. If you don't use the muscles, you will lose them and hence your ability to perform everything from mundane physical tasks to amazing feats such as water skiing and tree climbing. Of course, we recommend slow motion weight training for improving strength.

Finally, I highly recommend taking some quiet, reflective time each day, whether you call it meditation, mindfulness, or just contemplating your belly button. Our ancestors did not evolve to be plugged in every minute to technology, or be in big crowds and our bodies and brains will not thrive long term on a 24/7 diet of constant stimuli.

Once you start all these practices, then you will be able to find your "superpowers". Why? Your energy and focus will increase. Your strength, stamina, endurance and physical abilities will improve. You will become more patient and accepting. You will be more willing to fail and try things again. You will be on a permanent high. Your productivity at work, school, sport and play will increase. You will start achieving things and reaching goals that once seemed just out of reach. You will then aim for higher and higher goals. Most of the people at the top of their field have this "runner's high" of focus, motivation, endorphin response and drive. Your "superpowers" will reveal themselves at this point. Of course, they are not supernatural powers;rather, they are completely natural abilities. It's just that you have primed your body and mind to achieve amazing things. Maybe your "superpowers" include writing a book, being an inspiring coach, being a top athlete, or a top salesperson, or great musician. Whatever your powers are, they are powers that others will consider quite amazing.

The only question is, what are you waiting for? Do you want to wallow in mediocrity every day for the rest of your life? Just passing the time? Or do you want to thrive? Acheive great things for you and your loved ones. Do not put it off any longer. I promise you if you start these practices today, a whole world of possibility will open up to you. You will find your "superpowers" and you will never look back!

Posted March 19, 2019 by Tim Rankin