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  • Writer's pictureJohn Kim

Huberman Labs

Over a dozen people recommended that I listen to a podcast by Stanford Neuroscientist Andrew Huberman before I finally got around to it. Now I’m hooked.

Dr. Huberman explores the latest research, which often confounds traditional wisdom on everything from fitness to food and from improving focus to eliminating fear. I’m sleeping better, enjoying a more fun lifestyle, and probably added a decade to my lifespan with the habits I’ve implemented from his wisdom.

There are so many great nuggets in there, but the one that Huberman probably espouses most frequently is that “I focus on mechanism over protocol.”

[I paraphrase]

“See so often I find people just want me to tell them what to do. ‘What supplements should I buy? What time should I sleep? Should I lift weights or do crossfit? How many times per week?’ The reality is that everyone is different, and even if there is an ideal protocol for you to follow, life happens and you’re never going to be able to keep it up perfectly into perpetuity.

What I find much more effective than sticking to one protocol is to dig into the mechanism. If you understand how things work, based on peer-reviewed research from reputable publications, then you can formulate a routine for yourself. But when you can’t follow that routine one day because life happens, you can adjust based on your knowledge of the mechanism instead of wallowing in a sea of guilt. I find this approach much more sustainable and frankly more enjoyable than following a bunch of rules.”

I feel like in so many ways this encapsulates the spiritual life. It’s easy to teach my kids a set of rules. “You shouldn’t lie, steal or hurt people.” Before we have the time to get into all the details, that might be a good place to start. But over time as we live life together they start to understand the heart behind these rules.

“We’re throwing a surprise party for Mama so we need to lie about where we’re going tonight. That’s the loving thing to do right?”

“Right. Ok got it Apa.”

Jesus often scolded religious leaders for placing too much emphasis on the rules. Rabbis in his day would follow a certain “yoke”, which essentially represented a list of do’s and don’ts, many of which were impossible for a normal person to follow. It gave the “spiritually mature” folks a measuring stick to prove their own superiority over others. But in describing his own views on mechanism vs protocol, Jesus said this.

“My yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

It’s about mercy not sacrifice. It’s about relationship, not the rules. It’s about mechanism, not protocol.

God, may I not look at the speck in my brother’s eye, and ignore to plank in my own. Help me to love others as you’ve loved me.

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