Apocalyptic images come to mind, when we think about the consequences of climate change, the threat of war and the collapse of our agricultural system. Usually, we seek solutions in the realm of institutional politics, power games or technology. The discussion around toxic masculinity has however shed light on a deeper-rooted cause of our current misery. But there is more to it than a purely historical patriarchal system. We need to regain our senses to bring life to its fullest, develop a regenerative culture and learn to have pleasure again – beyond instant gratification fun.

When we usually talk about our contemporary, seemingly unsurmountable, social, political and environmental challenges, we use a quite dark and negative way to describe them. Rather than convincing more people, the ones we try to get on our side become scared or even more stubborn in their denial of reality, as research suggests (confirmation bias).

To really convince people to do something about climate change, hate and other worrisome perspectives, it could be wise to adopt a discourse focusing on the benefits we will gain from adopting a healthier and more connected lifestyle. The bad mood in politics and society are also influenced by what we give to our bodies: today, shockingly high levels of bad sex and food.

Starting with sex, one of the most powerful drives it seems, our contemporary society is practicing relatively low quality time. Most statistics use the quantitative measure of orgasms as a proxy for good sex. According to an US survey among 1700 women, 37% are satisfied by their sexual life. Why is that and how can it become better? As probably the most intimate and social interaction our species has cultivated, it reflects societal norms and habits. Since we live in a society, where loneliness, competition and inequalities reign, sex is subject to power games, egoistic pleasure seeking and velocity. While psychology shows us that sharing, the act of giving and empathy are really what makes us happy, many people have never learned to know their bodies’ wishes and to cultivate pleasure with the partner. Early ejaculation, the absence of female orgasms, a sense of guilt after app sex and growing disconnection from the own body are the results.

This stands against the background of a kaleidoscopic variety of sexual practices, sexualities, positions etc. Gladfully today, a growing number of people are (re)discovering the ancient wisdoms tought by schools such as Kama Sutra or Tantra. Rather than being only positions, these teachings cover a broader range of life practices similar to Yoga. It is only by being conscious of our bodies, desires and thoughts that we can start to connect with other people. Breathing exercises and meditation can help to prepare for sex, making the sensory impressions more powerful without needing to use Viagra, porn, poppers or other stimulants. There is so much to discover, but it starts within ourselves. As a monkey species, body contact, including sex, is important for hormonal regulation. Hormones released during sex help to reduce stress (endorphins), relieve pain (oxytocin), boost the immune system  (endorphins) and soften the skin (estrogen).

The proverb “you are what you eat” describes what food does to our bodies: it can be a source of strength or disease. Highly processes or refined foods worsen our body’s regulation of insulin, promote inflammation and oxidative stress. Symptoms such as mood disorders or even depression are worsened[1]. More precisely, the influences of food through hormonal regulation occurs through our gut, which has therefore been labelled “second brain” due its central importance to our central nervous system[2]. Having a healthy flora of gut bacteria is crucial to keep hormones at healthy levels, preventing stress and immune system damage. Diets rich in probiotics (through yogurts, kefir or kombucha), vegetables, unprocessed fats like the Japanese or Mediterranean diets help to keep the gut flora healthy, ultimately resulting in better mood[3].

To conclude, our emotional state depends on our behaviours and thought patterns. Sensuality, physical activity and food can help to boost the immune system and avoid imbalances in the hormonal household, which affect our thinking. These influences on our moods have repercussions on our social behavior, perception of the world and political attitude. When analyzing contemporary societal patterns and political power structure, it is helpful not to forget that the socio-political system does not operate in a vaccum, but is interrelated with our biological and psychological systems (also see Miguel Benasayag). A holistic analysis of contemporary social challenges shall therefore also consider these realms. Of course, societal norms, education and the socio-economic status play into the way we learn about issues such as food and sex. But we also have a persona choice to make when it comes to these: there is no one else who can eat better, feel better and think better than ourselves. More than ever, we have to integrate personal-level and societal-level actions after the motto “be the change you want to see in the world” by Ghandi).

[1] https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/nutritional-psychiatry-your-brain-on-food-201511168626

[2] https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-fallible-mind/201701/the-pit-in-your-stomach-is-actually-your-second-brain

[3] See 1.