Life is a Skill

Man in a suit on tight rope in skyOptimal success & effectiveness in any area of life is about one’s skill level, not about one’s “character.”

No one is born with fixed “character traits” that ensure success and happiness in life.

It is not just a cutesy, platitude to say “LIFE IS A SKILL.”  It is a profound, yet simple message that the human culture needs to hear.  There is abundant credible research about the nature of us human beings that supports the principle of this project that living life successfully and happily is about learning, maintaining, and improving basic human skills.  Having a good life, thriving at life, is not about having  certain special “character traits.”

The Main Premise of this Project:

  • We human beings are biological organisms, biological entities, biological creatures.  I could say we are “biological animals,” but many human beings react negatively to the suggestion (reminder) that we human beings are “animals.”
  • As biological creatures, there are certain biological principles that govern/affect the unique biology of every human being. These principles or “rules” are what make us a unique biological species.
  • One of the basic biological rules for us human beings is that we are “social animals.”  Our “social animal nature” is a fact/function of our biology.  It is not an ideological or moral or temperament preference of just some human beings.
  • We are, however, significantly different from all other biological creatures.  In addition to the universal biological “rules” that govern every aspect of life for every single individual human being every moment of every day (all 7 billion plus of us), we human beings are also subject to the cultural “rules” of the groups we live and work and play in.
  • Every discrete group of humans (even relatively transitory ones) has a unique “culture” — families, neighborhoods, schools, cities, businesses, religions, nations, gangs, cliques, etc. etc.
  • UNESCO defines culture as  “the set of distinctive spiritual, material, intellectual, and emotional features of society or a social group,” which “encompasses, in addition to art and literature, lifestyles, ways of living together, value systems, traditions and beliefs.”
  • The cultural “rules” of a group develop, evolve, and are enforced by the most powerful, most influential, leaders of the group.  This is as true of “nuclear family cultures” and “friend cultures” as it is for “corporate cultures,”  “national cultures,” and “religious cultures.”  Notice that the UNESCO definition uses the euphemism “features of a society or social group” rather than “rules,” but they are indeed “cultural rules” rather than optional “features.”  Violate ANY group’s “cultural features” at your own risk!
  • If the cultural rules of every group of humans were based on basic principles of optimal functionality for human behavior at the individual level, at the relationship level, and at the group level, there would be no problem with the most powerful, most influential leaders, being the “enforcers of the culture.”
  • But just a cursory review of the immense/incredible variety of group cultural patterns around the world leads to the obvious conclusion (obvious to me anyway) that every group’s cultural rules can’t be “the best rules” or the “most optimally functional rules” for the same biological species.
  • It is not the intention of this project to make any value judgments about one group’s cultural rules as being better than any other group’s cultural rules.  We actually think the problem we’re focusing on with this project is a common problem of most human groups: Many of the most influential cultural leaders (parents, religious leaders, teachers, political leaders, the media) of many (if not most groups) give out messages (spoken and unspoken) that if one doesn’t “have” certain “character traits” or the “right stuff”, one is “less than,” “not good enough,” and maybe even defective — the attitude that IF you HAVE the qualities of the cultural rules that our group values as the “best” qualities, then you have a “good character,” but if you don’t “have” those qualities, then you have a “bad character” or a “less-than-optimal character” — i.e. you either “have what it takes” or you don’t.  This may even be a common “human group nature” pattern.
  • Yet it is not true.  Most of the “character traits” a culture admires and prizes are in reality very basic life skills that one learns best as a child.
  • The “good character”/”bad character” dichotomy is not optimally functional and is actually harmful to the learning, success and optimal well being of the individuals in any group of humans.
  • To succeed, do well, thrive, be happy, in ANY culture — whether hunter-gatherer culture, whether wealthy corporate billionaire culture, whether orthodox religious culture (any religion), whether simple agrarian village culture, whether modern, urban/suburban culture — is all about optimally functional human behavior skills that apply in ANY human group — skills that most any human being can learn and improve.

Some Fundamental Human Behavior Skills:

Awareness is a Basic Human Skill

We use “awareness skills” to include “present reality self-awareness” and “awareness of your immediate surroundings in present reality,” as well as the skills of attention and focus.

  • Awareness is a basic life survival skill for everyone (not just “yogis” or “mindfulness practitioners”)
  • Awareness is a reality life skill (Life only happens in present reality)
  • Awareness is a happiness life skill (we are happiest when we are aware in present reality)
  • Awareness is a basic relating skill ( you won’t relate well to another person if you are not aware of both yourself and the other person in present reality)

Caring is a Basic Human Skill.

We’re using “caring” as defined by Milton Mayeroff in his inspiring book On Caring: “to care for another person in the most significant sense is to help him/her grow and actualize him/herself.” Likewise to care for an idea, or a project, includes this very simple and basic, yet profound action principle of helping the idea/project/business “to grow and actualize itself.”

  • The skill of caring for your life (the well being of your life) is probably the most important, most basic, survival skill and the most important life success & happiness skill.
  • The skill of caring for another person (the well being of the life of the other person) is probably the most important, most basic, relationship skill.
  • The skill of caring for a project/task/goal (the well being/success of the project/task/goal) is probably the most important, most basic, success/effectiveness skill.

Wanting is a Basic Human Skill.

Babies know what they “want.” It’s a really important basic human skill. It is the source (or expression) of all self-motivation, yet many human cultures (family cultures, religious/spiritual cultures, work/school cultures) treat “personal wanting” as a “bad thing” — “selfish,” “egotistical,” “the source of all suffering.” As a result many people grow to adulthood with very poor or undeveloped “wanting skills,” poor “intrinsic motivation skills.”

  • Wanting is the most basic skill for goal-setting, ambition, planning, success.
  • Knowing what you want and don’t want in present reality is a basic autonomy, self-awareness, and self-competence skill.
  • Knowing what you want and don’t want in present reality is a basic relating skill
  • Many people are not very skilled at knowing what they want and don’t want in present reality (or for the future) because of theses developmental cultural influences and lack of basic training in the skills of wanting and intrinsic motivation.

Relating is a Basic Human Skill

  • Relating well with others is a survival skill; a success skill; a happiness skill; a health skill
  • Seeing others as they are (in reality) is a basic relating skill
  • Letting others see you as you are (in reality) is an important relating skill
  • Relating well is an important independence/autonomy skill; an important self-management skill; an “inside skill”

Learning is a Basic Human Skill

  • Learning is a Self-Skill; an Inside Skill; a Motivation Skill
  • Learning is a Not-Knowing Skill; an Uncertainty Skill; a Confusion Skill
  • Learning is a Curiosity Skill; an Exploration Skill
  • Learning is an Integration Skill; a Balancing Skill; an Evaluation Skill; a Maximal Complexity Skill

You get the idea?  These are not commonly taught as “skills,” yet from our perspective these skills are more important than “math skills” or “athletic skills.”

The Project:

  • Websites, blogs, podcasts, videos, online interviews with researchers/teachers/recognized authorities, focusing on any aspect of  “human nature research” that relates to, supports, or brings into question, our thesis that “LIFE IS A SKILL.” [Alternate Title: “LIFE IS A NOW SKILL”]
  • A successful research-based, culture-help/self-help book for general “mainstream” audience, synthesizing the  research that supports our theories that the most optimally functional human behaviors are skills, not character traits.
  • Books, manuals & web content (including audio & video), for parents, for teachers, for coaches, therapists, and even for children, to teach and encourage the principles of “Life is a Skill” for niche audiences.

To get the current outline and development audios for the LIFE IS A SKILL project APPLY HERE