Yep, that is what it's all about:
Human Atomic Composing
Chosen limitation in a world of endless options
Let’s start with a Jesus analogy: Metaphorically we’re crucified, and then there is the opportunity for rebirth! But we are too terrified of this initial, rebirth-allowing death. And in the end, because of our pursuit of security, we don’t see fully and hold on to what we were taught. Boom. But what’s the real behavior behind it?
First of all: We haven’t learned anything else, so simple. Despite the fact that we vastly realize a world full of options, we stick to the ones we know as long as they provide a secure feeling; money, structure, family, career, studies, etc.; that becomes a real challenge when we start to feel absolutely not well with the “chosen option” with progressing age. Until it’s not unrealizable: the urge for changing something you don’t know yet. The pursuit of security doesn’t replace other needs within you, which are repressed or even don’t fully known/understand till this very special moment. What now? For many of us, a switch means “doing something totally different”, rebirth, like in the analogy. But this is a threat against our chosen security, which was until now one of the main drivers of our actions, even our identity. And one main brick of our habitus. A dilemma starts; objects fall down, what is the right choice now? Giving up the known and stable coordination within our system for something we surely don’t know and probably ending up on the other side of what I’ve been experiencing all my life? What trade… But why do we need to understand ourselves so drastically dual? And important as well: so linear?
Look at our current collective human need: to change, to be different, to finally find value, to explore the unknown, and to escape misery. The trend is self-actualization, new ways, a lot of self-helping books, you name it. It seems that our system leads us in one way or at least doesn’t prepare us for when we hit the wall questions. Statistics show, how “less” we became: depression and anxiety rates increased significantly, even more through the pandemic, some studies say, that within Europe the empathy level of each person decreased by 23%, and we develop more diverse cope-mechanisms like eating, binge-watching, gaming, porn, casual dating, (… many more…).
Paradoxically what we are looking for now, but without having the tools, is what we missed developing early on in our lives. I believe that in our earlier years when we begin to be a productive part of society, we lose the curiosity to start experiencing different and authentic versions of ourselves, the alternative me. Instead, we choose to stay in our linearity (with the important ones). And statistics say that with certainty, we hit the wall of “is this really everything?” A path for each human, history says. But how does it periodically come so far? Maybe because after we’re born into this world, and from the moment we become self-aware, which happens generally when we’re between 5 and 8 years old, we spend so much waking energy trying not to die instead of fully living, to integrate ourselves into an attractively secure system. It’s like a credit, and paying comes later, with a little surprise! Gretchen-Question: Aren’t we more than just a systematic prediction of “failure”? Actually, I think it can be very different.
In my humble opinion, there are two pathways for possible change:
A. Prophylaxis; learning to avoid misery in early age
B. Acting differently after the awakening
There needs to be a lot for Prophylaxis, and that includes system adjustments. And that is, what I can’t influence (yet). Therefore I like to concentrate on Acting after the awakening, because it’s on an individual level, not on a cultural-systematic-based one. And probably for “B” Human A/B can be of service, as a service to collect, prepare and put it in patterns for an option matrix.
Summed up: We start our lives by choosing not to die, to find our place in society, which needs so much focus that we don’t see other things on this journey. Until we reach the status of “security”. And then the sense-question let’s us fall apart and realize, that we have never prepared to this event.
It happened to me as well: I crashed. Not a tragic one but enough to let me intensively struggle. Didn’t know why I hadn’t seen it coming, and suddenly I became disorientated. My life was a good one, blessed with a nice family, good job opportunities, good education, and even in sports, there was something going on. But one day, it didn’t feel right any longer.
I felt veeeery comfortable in my mind. So I tried to ignore it, to endure it, just to delay the fact of one day finding myself not knowing who I truly am, what I really want, and why I am so unsatisfied. It became my vacuum, an identity crisis. All I invested to end up here and now? Like this? Yes – pity spot on me. But as a caregiver personality type I saw at the same time that I am not the only one. Everyone experiences it. It must be a pattern or some kind of rhyme. And if there is a pattern, it can be influenced. Maybe universally, and maybe it counts for everyone.
And one day it happened: I became curiosity for profound new influences. Something needed to change. If something needs to change, I need new tools I haven’t gotten into my toolbox yet. I became fascinated with the realms of biohacking, spirituality, books, sports and many more – thanks to my love. A journey through this realms got some time, and I realized that a lot of things need to become different for me mindset- and behavior-wise. What it is, I only had clues. But I want truly see/find my core and understand which periphery I added on top of it, why I did it, and generally why I chose al my cornerstones. Once you know your sequence, you can track down old pathways and start changing, to begin new ones. And slowly forming a different or new YOU. I believe in order to do so, you need to seek discomfort to bring yourself to other places you’d never been before. And the effort to go there takes a lot from you. You are literally trying to find your second rebirth sport and rebirth yourself (imagine:).
HAC: Composting yourself
For more than a decade, I worked internationally in digital and marketing agencies of all thinkable sizes and with an insane speed. And in the last 30% of my working career, I became very upset with the thought that what I was doing had no real meaning or purpose, only in digital, tech, and marketing. As a managing strategist, I built frameworks for experiences, behaviors, and user needs, and I always tried to give my teams tools. Sometimes also very unconventional ways. My mission was based on principles and methods to granularly build a “single source of truth,” offering awesome products like complex websites, apps and services based on data. And then it hooked me, and I understood that a lot of trees are a forest and there is beauty: Why not apply my knowledge to something more “true”, building a framework for humans? A map with all favorite places to give inspiration on where to travel, a framework everybody can add elements and shape/inspire their understanding of what could be good for someone? Like a guiding principle of all thinkable and experienced possibilities? Old pathways to get rid of or to be recycled? New ones to reshape your total presence? A collective companion for a more authentic you?
And this is the blog about, the method which I call Human Atomic Composing (HAC). A method to find this one big, overarching pattern. By collecting new and old ingredients to be able to cook many more meals than you propably know. But mostly: Collection all the already existing knowledge, relate it on each other, reading impacts, building neuronal landscapes. To illustrate it with experiments and at the end hopefully inspire you with the mission to inspire you to try new things and find out if they could make a significant difference in your life. To add value. And finally, being in the position of choosing to keep or letting go of something you are not. To become authentic and content with yourself. Being healthy. Without losing your core. Or wasting too much energy against resistentes.
HAC is a theory, a basic patterned methodology in an atomic way. In which to apply new elements (=atoms) to enrichen the pool of options, to be able to create larger contexts and repositioning of yourself to better choose between options (i.e. A or B). To try new things and lose the shame of even trying itself; to accept to be bad in something before it could turn good (=seeking discomfort first). And to understand that sometimes it’s A, and sometimes it’s B. And that you’ve always choices.
Human Atomic Composing?
HAC can be understood as a basic methodology (way) to build a framework (goal). Probably this part will get its own section with some illustrations but for now, I like to describe it.
HAC consists of the three words “Human”, ”Atomic”, and ”Composing”. Behind each word there is an official meaning and an explanation how I take it.
Humans, or homo sapiens (coined by Carl Linnaeus in 1735), are the most widespread species of primates, mainly characterized by the way they move (bipedalism) and their exceptional cognitive skills (since Aristoteles set this focus) due to a large and complex brain. We are highly social and tend to live in complex social structures. We evolved approx. 300.000 years ago from Homo Heidelbergensis in Africa. So all humans belong to the species homo sapiens. This means that in our basic characteristics, we are all the same. Therefore I like to use “Human” in HAC as the absolute totality to which HAC is applicable. Maybe shorter: “Human” opens a context for all humans in all variations, in all contexts with all filters, specialties, differences, etc. because we are all one. And I like to write for all humans and all their shared patterns. Therefore for me, the desired “object” (=human) is a true and wholesome one, because you can’t make graduations in “human”, if you like to look at their most atom existence and how their “atoms” are composed. “Atom” leads us to the next important term used in HAC: Atomic.
It’s easier to explain the noun “Atom” first because everything derives from here: In physics, it’s the smallest particle of matter, that uniquely defines a chemical element. It always consists of a central nucleus which is surrounded by one or more negatively charged electrons. The nucleus by itself is positively charged and contains one or more relatively heavy particles known as protons and neutrons; they are bound to the nucleus by electrical attraction; the number of protons determines the identity of the element. And a simple but very profound take out for HAC is, that atoms are the basic building blocks for matter (we) and that there are fundamental relations because of their polarity. Atomic means relating to power that is produced from the energy released by splitting atoms.
Atoms are the foundation to build everything, but someone transferred these principles into a totally different discipline: design. “Atomic Design” was invented by Brad Frost, a design system consultant. With his transfer work and including visuals the understanding to build things from very small to very big, and that very big things can be demounted to very small things, made the arrangement or composing of building blocks (atoms) very plastic, plausible, and visual. For me, it was a brilliant example to bridge principles from one to another world without losing its core “rule sets”. But what is Atomic design?
“Atomic design is a methodology composed of five distinct stages working together to create interface design systems in a more deliberate and hierarchical manner” (Brad Frost). The five stages of atomic design are:
It’s not necessarily a linear process but you build visual things from the smallest building blocks (atoms) to first, but minor sense full units (molecules), to more complex structures (organisms) until an object (templates), and finally the product (pages). As I explained earlier, bigger things can be also demounted into their building blocks. This means that in later stages of a design, if something turns out as not so cool, you can go backward and update on organism-, molecule- and atoms-level in earlier stages. Once you build this Design System, you have global rules for each element. A change of i.e. a color will have a global impact on all other points where the color (atom) was used. Very solid for maintaining the whole structure.
For HAC I like to change the focus on the stages a little; in my opinion, only the first three ones are of relevance to my approach. I like to stay with the chemical part because it is coherent and doesn’t introduce a “second language” as an add-on. It’s all about our building blocks in attempted totality (atoms) and to what do we arrange them consciously (molecules) without unnatural resistance. Finally, to appear, express, and choose state/mode/presence/behaviors/options, etc. (organism) with an awareness of our achievements/choices and their impact on our life. In the end, Brad Frost pointed it out as well: It is all about modularity. If we understand us humans as a modular construction with eternal opportunities of adding, changing, adapting, rearranging, avoiding, or creating modules, and how we could use this understanding in the HAC-way, it would be very close to my earlier described framework.
The term “composition” originates from the Latin com– “with” and ponere “to place” and means “putting together”, forming something from various things. In visual arts (on which I focus the most in HAC) it means organizing chosen elements according to their context and committed principles/rule sets. For example, classic music is composed and played under the principles of “classic” (specific instruments, specific arrangements, etc.).
The categories or elements for visual design are line, shape, color, space, form, texture, and value. Here you can find certain principles and even suggested rules (i.e. Rule of space or rule of odds) for organizing as well. In the end, my biggest and most simple outtake is “putting something together”. What it is and from which source you take something to generate a pool of “atoms” from which you start to put things together, depends on the context of what you want to put together. Please see here again the example Atomic.
Another methodology: A/B-Testing
But what does the “A/B” in Human A/B mean? Jep, another methodology. It symbolizes the choice between two options, an A or a B. Originally it comes from “A/B-Testing” also known as split testing, a method to test two variations against each other under real-life circumstances. The option with the best feedback will be chosen. An example: I build a web shop and to offer the function “buy” or “add to cart” you use buttons. They can have different shapes, sizes, and colors (keep Atomic Design in mind). If I am not sure about the best option, i.e. if the buttons should be red or green, I test it with users. One user group gets variation A, and the other one variation B. The best-performing variation defines the choice. Why? Because major feedback equals what the users like and a shop is built for the user, for his navigation through the shop; you reduce subjectivity to provide the best possible user experience. This testing is not only important for creating new things, but it is also very well used on already existing products, which need to be updated after a while. i.e. if demands of a marked or from the user’s perspective change, so should the product as well, to maintain attractiveness and relevance. It’s all about iterations.
HAC is for opening up, to create awareness of how we’re all structured and how many hurdles, challenges, and options we have. And that it’s a matter of perspective, attitude, and behavior to change something for yourself if the pain is not endurable any longer. So awareness and pain are needed ingredients on the path forward. The A/B is now the purely practical part of everything. Mostly you already chose something, i.e. a career as a doctor. That’s an A. You don’t get along with what you are doing any longer. What could be the alternative? What is a B? I need to point out, that the alternative, the B, is mostly a derivate of who you are, it is mostly not a big jump between A and B if you break both down to their core elements (molecules and atoms). There are similarities, but the product (A or B) expresses different, brings different things along with, etc. The doctor’s B is a YouTuber with helpful and creative content. Big jump? Phenotypological, maybe. But if you take a closer look, not so much: both imply helping others, making them better, empathic dealing with the client/user, finding out things, the client/user wouldn’t on their own, and the list goes on. But even when both, A or B, is still open, it’s the same; everything is already inside you, and only the expression needs to be chosen. The A/B testing analogy is for encouraging that there is always an alternative and that the activation level to test something against the already known only depends on your suffering, awareness, and effort to go through discomfort (because at least B is something new and not known). But also, if you test two things against each other, you only know what you really like or what you are good at.
A short personal example: I was all my childhood and youth years playing soccer, quite high and good. There was potential. But was it really my thing? With distance, I must say, that after a while it became more a “must” than “oh yeah, let’s go again”. And this feeling stayed for a very long. I started to fall in love with triathlon, my new B. I did both, soccer and triathlon, for quite a while parallel. Until I decided that endurance sports were more mine. And I started to feel really good again. Until now I do not regret or miss playing soccer. It just turned out that the call and the benefits of my B were stronger. So I stayed. And believe me: At the beginning, I was not good at all.
We face more and more difficulties through stress, less resilience, little empathy, no involvement, and several mental struggles, including identity insecurities over the years. We keep our illusion of an already decided/ready form, which we sustain. Until something tells us that something went wrong. It’s not disrupting, but I believe all of these “experiences” follow a system, a pattern we cultivated. And what has a pattern can be sorted. Human Atomic Composing serves to create new awareness and support with a grid/framework of methods and options to get out of your “old” you, to become a master of your own choices. So here we are, to find ingredients and tools to iterate ourselves by seeking discomfort in many realms, backed by the interplay of pragmatic, science-based, experiential, and spiritually influenced concepts. To make new decisions because we allow ourselves more options; here comes A/B into the game. In the end, it’s a chance to understand that there is always an A or a B! And to go out and try, especially the unknown. Have a cool journey!