MY JOURNEY

the truth is it’s up to us to drive and shape the lives we want for ourselves — no matter how the dynamics around us shift & evolve.

When I began the Website in 2022, I was expecting that maybe a handful of readers might find its content truly appealing. I even hoped that some of them would feel inspired enough to take on board one or two of its suggestions—but I anticipated that otherwise it would be largely ignored.

Partly this was because of the topic. Lifestyle Harmonics had been designed to help us navigate the tectonic shifts happening across the modern world; but at the same time I realised that society is full of scientific theorists, advice columnists and lifestyle gurus—all offering competing formulas for better living.

Nevertheless, satisfaction levels have been declining over recent decades and the reasons why have gotten very little attention; so I began to immerse myself in a range of scientific and philosophical literature and pondered what emerged.

James Pic: Angels Landing—Zion National Park
Angels Landing—Zion National Park
James Pic: Looking Out at Bryce Canyon—Utah

Bryce Canyon

James Pic: Enjoying Wine in Hope Cove—Salcombe
Hope Cove—Salcombe
Lazy English Summers
Warwickshire, UK

I spent much of the lockdown era reading up on psychology and philosophy, self-help and sociology—even venturing into neurobiology and anthropology. These were uncanny times, when social concerns flickered back and forth, where past and present became confused.

Many times my research led me to change my assumptions or reconfigure my world view. Pretty soon I knew enough to realise that if I wanted to lead a rich and fulfilling life, there needed to be a complete shift in the paradigm—and Lifestyle Harmonics was born. 

Let’s pause here a moment to make an important point: something that has always struck me when reading about the human brain is how much it clings to balance & how much care and effort it puts into resisting change and sticking to routine. The goal above all things is to maintain and establish homeostasis: an equilibrium between all things.

 

George Leonard does a great job at exploring this tendency and how it can prevent us from following through on positive change in his magnum opus: Mastery: The Keys to Success & Long Term Fulfilment.

To step into the field of harmonics, by contrast, is to follow a logic of antagonism: mixing reason with imagination, chaos with order; embracing uncertainty and ambiguity as a way of moving forward.

While many of the ideas behind this platform are generally not something I can claim to have invented, for I have taken fragments and sometimes whole chunks of information from different and sometimes ancient sources, they’ve been presented here in a form which I hope makes them accessible.

“He was the dynamism of a life free from civilisation’s shackles. He was strength and purpose and heart, where all else was grey with the promise of inevitable stagnancy. But he wasn’t free because of who he was, he was free because of how he lived — forever echoing the vitality and honesty of the wildness that lies at the centre of all life.”

—Dembski-Bowden | Betrayer

Harmonics—at it’s most simple—is both a revolt away from something and an impulse towards. It’s a revolt against our bland consumer culture: living in a chloroform world where nearly half of people report having no interaction with their neighbours and more than one in six takes antidepressants.  

At the same time, it’s a move towards something else—towards paradox & dualism; towards repolarisation; towards living for the fire even though it burns you in the process.

Those who follow me on this path—who choose to channel their wilder energies into a constructive framework; who combine light with dark, savage with noble, apollonian vision with dionysian animation—stand to unlock creativity, greatness, & the capacity to truly affirm life. They recover the dignity & capacity for heroism which the modern world has largely lost.

I might still be to some extent swimming against the current with this perspective, but there are signs, tentative signs, that the current may be changing direction.

In the last decade or two, there has been an explosion in scientific and philosophical work that has shown us we humans—psychologically and physiologically speaking—are meant to oscillate between the extremes. From The Comfort Crisis to The Other Side Of Happiness, things seem to be changing. And more and more of us are waking up to the fact that there’s more to living than simply maximising pleasure and avoiding pain.

To these people: I say take the leap and let Lifestyle Harmonics guide you back towards a more visceral and complete sense of what it is to be human. 

James Pic: Crossing The Brook at Frogmore—Devon

Frogmore—Devon

1. What Inspired You To Launch The Website?

What’s remarkable, and also sad, about modern culture is how we’re surrounded by material abundance—and yet researchers tell us global rates of anxiety and depression have soared over the past few years.

Add to that reports suggesting that about one in four young adults has contemplated suicide and the reason is perhaps straightforward: Life today is becoming increasingly difficult & less fulfilling than it was even a couple decades ago.

Call me cliché but I think one of the most important questions we can ask right now is why this is happening. We don’t need more quick fixes—we need a complete shift in the paradigm. And that’s why I launched Lifestyle Harmonics. 

2. So, How Would You Describe Harmonics To A Stranger?

I believe a big part of living a first class life is being able to channel your wilder energies—your appetites for chaos, escapism, and savage abandon—in an attuned and productive direction.

Rather than say, drinking, you lift weights; rather than surfing Tinder and Instagram, you put yourself out there in the real world. You choose things that require some initial degree of effort—that involve embracing a certain amount of discomfort—rather than seeking to neutralise your desire or bury it under distraction.  

What this requires however is nothing short of reframing the negative side of certain polarities—pleasure and pain, for example, or chaos and order—in a more sophisticated and constructive way. 

And that is the type of thing I explore through Lifestyle Harmonics. 

3. Care To Explain How Harmonics™ Helps People?

Okay, look, most of us tend to approach life through stagnant, fixed goals: things like wealth building, material acquisition, security etc. We pursue pleasure, and seek to minimise pain. We prioritise predictability and seek to mitigate risk. 

Harmonics reframes things through a logic of opposition. Stress and rest, chaos and order, pleasure and pain; these are all things that exist on a spectrum. What’s more the fruitful tension generated between these opposing polarities is what grants us momentum in life: it’s what propels people into leading a rich and fulfilling existence.

Harmonics, then, is about learning how to mingle opposites in a structured and thought out way—changing how we think and feel about ourselves in the process.

4. Tell Us About Your Own Journey.

I spent much of my earlier years walking down corridors of convention: corridors from term time to term time, corridors from school to university, corridors from the private sector to the public sector.  

I built up a good career for myself. And yet—and yet I diminished in ways that I didn’t fully understand. Looking back, the existential vacuum that struck me burned slow in my blood—eating at me month after month. I began to grow apart from those around me.

I was functional, still, but the more restless I grew, the more I gravitated towards cheap thrills & escapism; using them as a means of drowning out my simmering discontent. The light behind my eyes never faded, rather it seethed and turned sour.

I began to realise that carrying on down this path would eventually cause me to lose all sense of my identity.

So I decided I to look inwards instead: soaking up an elixir of science, philosophy & self-help in an effort to reboot how I approached life and begin making some changes.

To me, life’s not about material wealth, or maximising pleasure, as some seem to think. Rather it’s about meaning, and resonance. And so my journey began. 

5. Why So Obsessed With Opposition & Harmony?

My star sign is libra. I’ve always been keen to point out, to anybody who would listen, that, by rights, I should have been a Scorpio: an enigmatic thrill seeker—defined by his tempestuous passions and smouldering emotions.

The problem with this was the maternity staff at Solihull hospital seemed to disagree with me. I was induced with forceps about two weeks prior to my due date.

The implication being that I was now a Libra: unemotional, perhaps a bit boring, but at least down-to-earth, friendly and reliable..

But you know what, on second thoughts there might be more to it. While Libra is about finding harmony, who says harmony has to be boring?

Our lives are silhouetted by contrast and contradiction, hope & tragedy, chaos & order, and if we’re ever to come to terms with, and thrive within this paradigm, then we need to be prepared to oscillate between both ends of the spectrum.  

So then, I’m a Libra who’s about being perfectly balanced, yes. But not the kind that makes you dull: the steady, down-to-earth and reliable kind. It’s the kind that makes you fun: the antagonistic, ambiguous and, ultimately, apotheotic kind.