Ask the population that doesn’t suffer from depression…
….the Kaluli people.
What’s their secret? Keep reading to find out.
It started when an anthropologist in 1986 scoured the Highlands of New Guinea to study the prevalence of depression.
He wasn’t really expecting much. But what he discovered after surveying 2,000 Kaluli tribe members, shocked his expectations.
That the Kaluli people have virtually ZERO depression (in exception of one case).
(Kaluli woman holding her child)
That’s amazing. Especially when we consider they don’t have ANY of our medicine or comforts.
They also suffer from much more stressful life events than us (high infant mortality rates, violent deaths, and parasitic infections).
Yet, they have WAY lower depression rates than almost every civilized population on Earth.
The same was found with other Hunter Gatherers like the Thai-Lao of Thailand, Toraja of Indonesia, and even the Amish.
How is it possible that primitive people — who live much harder lives than we do — rarely suffer from depression?
The secret lies in their lifestyle habits.
More specifically, two things:
Let’s breakdown the first lifestyle habit:
Almost 100% of Kaluli people get adequate exercise.
In comparison, only 23% of Americans get ‘adequate’ exercise.
What’s one major side effect of not exercising?
As researchers recently discovered, exercise is AS effective as an antidepressant in treating depression (without the side effects).
Although it’s highly effective, there’s a problem with exercise:
Depressed people just don’t have energy to exercise.
So, how should a depressed person exercise?
The ‘Last Samurai’ Method
In The Last Samurai, Nathan Algren — the main character — was a depressed alcoholic.
Yet, he was able to turn it around by exercising. However, it was hard to do at first.
So what did he do?
He found an exercise he enjoyed:
And brought a friend to exercise with:
When he coupled these two together, Nathan couldn’t help himself but to exercise.
And he did…every single day.
But why did it work?
It has to do with reactivating a part of your brain that goes offline when you’re depressed:
The left prefrontal cortex.
This part of the brain is responsible for action. When it’s offline, depressed people will find it nearly impossible to do anything.
Luckily, there’s a way to ‘hack’ this offline part.
Bring a friend or another person (like a personal trainer).
When you do, you’ll be able to ‘outsource’ the motivation to start the activity and the accountability to finish it.
That’s why it worked for Nathan and why it’ll work for you (or any depressed person).
So again, if you want to exercise, here’s what you do:
First, find an exercise you enjoy. This can be as simple as walking.
(Bonus points if it’s in nature!)
Then, find a friend to exercise with. This is how you ‘outsource’ motivation and stay accountable to exercise.
(Pro Tip: Can’t find a friend? Go for a paid person (personal trainer) or digital accountability.)
Finally, start small. Don’t try to become an Olympic athlete.
Instead, start SO small that you can’t say ‘no’ to exercising. Something like 1 time a week and then slowly working your way up to at least 3 times a week.
When you start exercising consistently, you’ll quickly notice your depressive symptoms clear up along with a massive energy boost.
You’ll start to feel like this:
So, what do you do with this momentum?
Find A Hobby
Back to Nathan Algren.
After he started exercising consistently, he naturally started to become interested in a new hobby:
(Don’t be surprised if you get wrecked at first)
So he took that hobby up with a friend and found his depression die away completely.
Why is that?
Well, hobbies offer two things:
- They allow you to retreat from the negative thoughts of your head (called rumination)
- They keep you busy with fun
That’s why hobbies are usually associated with lower rates of depression.
That said, there are two things to remember with hobbies:
#1: Choose a hobby you enjoy. For myself, I chose writing.
#2: Bring a friend. I found a writing friend on Reddit and write with him daily.
(Pro Tip: Bonus points if it’s a team-based hobby like basketball.)
These two tips will ensure you stick to your hobby.
And that sums up the two best ways to get out and avoid getting depressed.
So as a final recap…
…if you ever find yourself becoming depressed, do two things:
Exercise. Get out and exercise with a friend. Start small (1X/week) and work your way up to at least 3X/week. This will give you energy.
Find A Hobby. Find a hobby you enjoy and do it with a friend. This will keep your mind (and schedule) busy for depression.
Combined, they’re the most effective, life-changing habits for depression that’ll help keep depression at bay and keep you looking like this: