FAQs

You can browse through these FAQs to Better Understand The Harmonic Principles and find answers to commonly raised questions.

If you have any more questions, please do Get In Touch.

1. Lifestyle Harmonics—in a nutshell.

People have a dual nature. Once we accept this fundamental point—that our lives are a duet between light & dark, savage & noble—we can work to accentuate this paradox rather than neutralise it.

Lifestyle Harmonics explores this process of oscillation between two sets of opposing polarities via an evolving series of in-depth longform essays (2000-3500 word articles).

It’s articles have, thus far, touched on things like how dealing with hardship boosts mental wellbeing; how opponent processes are foundational for long-term happiness; and how facing up to discomfort expands consciousness; strengthens relationships; and tightens community sentiment

2. Set out the problem you're trying to solve.

Despite the brittle optimism proclaimed by advertising, and not infrequently by government spokesmen, the defining mood of the modern era has been one of atomisation and disappointment.

This is not just my opinion—it’s as near a fact as such things can be.

A recent report from the Lancet found global rates of anxiety and depression had rocketed by nearly a third in 2020 alone—the largest increase ever recorded. To be clear that’s an extra 53.2 million cases of depression and about 76.2 million of anxiety than recorded in the previous year.

Add to that, a CDC survey reported that one in four young adults had contemplated suicide in 2020. And in 2021, according to Pew Research, more than a third of the 18-29 demographic in the United States reported “high psychological distress.”

These findings were repeated in the 2021 Harvard Youth Poll, which discovered more than half of young Americans complained of feeling down, depressed or hopeless for at least several days over the past two week period.

In short, I believe the challenges created by modernity absolutely require an attempt to reconstruct the type of lives we want to lead. And so far, we’re failing to come up with a compelling enough solution.

3. The Apollonian & The Dionysian.

Our lives, the German philosopher Nietzsche tells us, are governed by two fundamentally opposed forces, two opposite polarities; each one a perfect reflection of the other. 

The Apollonian stands for order, logic, and reason. Those who follow this path are unemotional, perhaps a bit boring, but at least down-to-earth and reliable.

The Dionysian represents chaos, animation, ecstasy and liberation. Those who follow this path, who commit to action, who prioritise passion over pragmatism, thrust themselves into the dizzying highs of human emotion, yet oftentimes at the expense of its abysmal lows.

Nietzsche tells us humanity is ultimately bound up within this Apollonian and Dionysian framework. The problem is that nowadays people neither gravitate to one nor the other, instead preferring to live in the comfortable rut of homeostasis: bounded up in mind-numbing routine and stagnating comfort.

Tragically, the mediocrity this propagates has spilled over into our collective psyche—stunting many people’s potential for personal growth, self-discovery & fulfilment. And that, in turn, is behind the collapse we’re seeing in mental health. Particularly amongst young men, who are built to expand their comfort zones and carve out their own trajectories. 

4. Dionysius / living for the moment?

A common misconception among many people—including my younger self—is that drinking a few beers and heading to Ibiza for a bit will more or less assuage our Dionysian urges. Contrary to expectations, however, cheap thrills and instant gratification merely serve to neutralise this drive rather than fulfil it.

These activities might offer us an pleasing respite, yes, but true Dionysian release involves living in harmony with our instincts and reconnecting with our authentic selves. 

Rather than getting high, then, or drunk on the weekends, Dionysius is to be found through leaning into your edge and channelling your capacity to pursue your authentic desires.  

5.. Tell us, then, about Harmonics™.

What Harmonics invites is neither the blind impulsiveness of the Dionysian, nor some retreat into the contemplative life of the Apollonian; but embracing the difficulty and uncertainty of action in a world defined by ambiguity, where right always seems to be on both sides. 

Nietzsche was correct to insist that living life fully necessitated a collision between two opposed yet mutually compatible modes of existence—the Apollonian & the Dionysian. But if both sides are right, then what on earth do we do? 

First off, rediscover how to oscillate between both ends of the spectrum: I explore this thread in more detail in the below sections. Secondly, and perhaps somewhat counterintuitively, learn how to bring these opposing dichotomies into higher harmony—where both sides exist in agreement.

Those who do, Nietzsche maintained, are able to live in accordance with their nature and regain the capacity to truly affirm life. 

6. Describe the key principles behind your theory.

#1, Repolarisation:

The first principle involves the bringing together of contrasting and contradicting forces—pleasure & pain, for example, or stress & rest—in a structured and thought out fashion.

This is, in essence, a practical approach, which is explored in great detail through my evolving series of articles. 

#2. Change In Frequency:

The second principle involves finding agreement between these opposing forces and using the fruitful tension this generates to propel ourselves into a more heightened and reinvigorated state of being.

Like Nietzsche puts it in The Birth Of Tragedy: “These opposing tendencies run in parallel to one another, for the most part openly at variance; and yet they continually incite each other to new and more powerful births, which perpetuate the antagonism; till by a miracle of will they appear coupled with one another, creating a form of aliveness that is equally Dionysian and Apollonian.” 

Summary:

What this means in plain English is two-fold. First off, we need to actively seek out both ends of the spectrum: doing things that make our heart race, that require us to journey outside our comfort zone, that tap into our wilder and more chaotic energies; but, at the same time, combining these more savage appetites with the civilised and controlled: taking care of ourselves, planning ahead, establishing a rigid framework of order & discipline.

Secondly, we need to channel this inner tension in ways that—rather than overwhelming us or driving us to neutralise it through cheap thrills and escapism—unleashes creativity, greatness, & the capacity to truly affirm life. We need to learn, in other words, how to harness this tension and direct it in ways that correspond to our will.

7. Care to explain how these principles work in real life?

Suppose you’re in a concert hall, listening to a violin performance. The rapid movements made by the violinist’s bow causes each individual string to vibrate at its own characteristic frequency. And it’s these subtle variations in frequency, taken together, that result in the violin’s musicality.

musician playing violin on a stage of a large venue

Makes sense, right? And yet should any of these individual strings fall out of tension, the corresponding notes being produced will change—likely ruining the entire performance.

Likewise, the same principle is true with regards to how we live our lives. Just as a violin plays badly, or not at all, if it’s individual strings lose tension; we humans fall into states of internal dissonance when the equilibrium between various sets of opposites in our lives—chaos & order, for example, or pleasure & pain—gets disrupted. 

I believe this dissonance—and the consequent loss this generates in harmonic tension—is what’s driving the largescale collapse we’re seeing in mental health across the world.

As Henry David Thoreau pointed out as far back as 1854: “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still within them.”

So, how might we address this situation? Well, musicians are able to retune their instruments through introducing certain frequencies—known as harmonic frequencies—which bring each string back to it’s natural state of tension. This can be visualised in the below diagram, which charts the effect this has on corresponding soundwaves.  

Harmonic Wave Oscillations

Harmonics suggests we follow a similar path. What re-attunement means in this setting, however, is combining different sets of opposites—pleasure & pain, for example, or reason & passion—in a structured and thought out fashion. We do this through the vector of Lifestyle Design.

And that—at its most fundamental—is what Lifestyle Harmonics is all about: namely, bringing different sets of opposites together in a way which restores harmonic tension.

8. Why the initial focus on pleasure & pain?

Perhaps the most important polarity to get to grips with, and certainly one of the most misunderstood, is that of pleasure & pain. To this end, I began by looking at how these drives might be better understood within the harmonic context.

My research led me to believe that, just because an experience is negative or hurts us, doesn’t actually mean it’s harmful for us. What’s more, our collective impulse to maximise pleasure while mitigating pain has made our society dramatically more anxious, risk-averse and fragile as a result.     

From this perspective, being more fearless with pain, approaching it head on, exploring its other qualities and developing insights into how and why it has well-being benefits certainly seems like a worth-while endeavour. And, through my comprehensive series of feature-length articles on the subject, I’ve tried to do just that. 

9. Where can I find more practical information?

The Lifestyle Roadmap is a step-by-step conceptual framework designed to help free us from the stupefying comfort of modern consumer culture and carve out a more fulfilling life for ourselves.

Otherwise—simply get in touch and send me a message.