Cultivating Mental Fitness In DAOs
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June 1st, 2022

Good Mental health is fundamental to our lives and careers. It is a prerequisite for us to achieve ambitious goals, ​​sustain relationships and meaningfully contribute to our communities.

Yet today mental health in DAOs is under siege and a better future of work is compromised by the many challenges present both in DAOs and the contributor lifestyle.

That’s the reason we instigated Twoplus: a mental fitness club for DAO contributors. Our mission is to empower digital communities to thrive and create positive impact by putting mental fitness at the core of collaboration.

“Mental Fitness is the modifiable capacity to utilize resources and skills to flexibly adapt to challenges or advantages, enabling thriving (optimal functioning)”

We believe that mental fitness allows us to become aware of ourselves and unlock our full potential sustainably. As a community we’re taking advantage of how early DAOs are to make mental fitness culture a default of the DAO space.

In this post we’re making the case for mental fitness in DAOs and Web3.

  1. Introducing Mental Fitness
  2. The Cost Of Mental Health in DAOs
  3. Injecting Mental Fitness In DAOs And The Contributor Lifestyle

Introducing Mental Fitness

Mental fitness shifts our perspective on mental health from something we endure to something we can nurture intentionally. Just as with physical fitness, adopting a mental fitness practice means training our brains towards better mental strength, resilience and flexibility.

Mental fitness is relevant to everyone but even more so for DAO contributors. We’re continuously processing information, context switching and being pulled in every direction even when we’re “offline”. Our abundant consumption of “junk information” makes us “mentally overweight” and in constant search for more stimulation or dopamine hits.

Work in the past might have been physically exhausting but in DAOs most of the drain is on our brain. This new work paradigm comes at an overwhelmingly high cost as over time our brain health goes down and we become unable to function on par with a healthy version of ourselves.

One conclusion is that at this point working in DAOs and Web3 involves a certain degree of fitness. Mental Fitness practices are here to help us adapt to this new landscape and turn the challenges of DAO life into opportunities to grow:.

  • Better handling of digital relationships and ambiguous interactions through high awareness of our own triggers and heightened emotional intelligence - mental “flexibility”
  • Coping with the intensity and events of the day by knowing how to shut down our nervous system and eventually prevent a state of burn-out - mental “resilience”
  • Regaining agency over what we focus on in the moment and working on better aligning our work with our strengths and values in the long term - mental “strength”

Through increasing our emotional intelligence, self-awareness and spontaneous mental fitness skillset, we do much better at responding to a situation, whether it is an event like a market crash or a tension with another contributor. We’re more objective and become better problem solvers. We also manage our energy sustainably and avoid tragic injuries like burn-out or conflicts.

The Cost Of Mental Debt In DAOs

Let’s use a quick historical analogy to highlight the importance of an intentional approach to mental fitness in the DAO space:

In the 1950s, Americans shifted to an over abundant and sedentary suburban lifestyle. This sudden change resulted in the many health conditions that have been raging and growing in the states.

Today, DAO contributors are the pioneers of a new lifestyle in their turn. This time around its the digital or DAO life which has dangerous externalities too.

  • We’re glued to Discord and Twitter first thing in the morning - adversary platforms designed to farm your attention.
  • We stuff ourselves with too much largely "junk"  information.
  • We are in continuous context switching -- draining our brain processing capacity.
  • We’re subject to high uncertainty driven by market conditions and the ephemerality of projects.
  • We’re valuing ourselves based on followers and likes and an ever-present feeling of not doing enough or missing what seem like "unique" opportunities.

Therefore, while highly freeing and rewarding, working in DAOs implies paying attention to our environment, routine and rethinking our mental hygiene.

When Americans' bodies changed, they could see it in plain sight. But for web3 workers that damage to our brain (and overall health and well-being) is hidden from our view, only showing up when it's too late in the form of chronic stress or burnout.

As time goes by mental debt hits harder and harder.

  • Short-term: inertia in collaboration and discomfort in day-to-day work
  • Medium-term: burn-out, conflicts and tensions impacting both creativity and productivity
  • Long-term: reputational damage, loss in ability to attract talent and loss of competitive advantage

Injecting Mental Fitness In DAOs And The Contributor Lifestyle

We think that there are two main avenues for to inject mental fitness in DAOs:

  1. Contributor experience - Org level
  2. Contributor training - Individual level

First, organizations that hold mental fitness as a core principle will mitigate mental debt through human-centered org design. They’ll work to offer better contributor experience which is essential for a DAO to remain relevant in the global competition for talent.

DAOs are products to contributors and UX rules apply in many ways. Iterating over contributor experience starts with being in close relationship with those doing the work, understanding their pains and prioritizing solutions. Here are some principles to start with.

Second, training contributors with mental fitness practices seems to be the highest leverage next step today. Whether one wants to become a world-class DAO builder or a casual participant, adopting a mental fitness practice is an opportunity to dive within and learn more about oneself. We believe that it is an essential foundation for self-management and working in a self-directed fashion like its often the case in DAOs.

Fortunately, the freedom and flexibility offered by DAOs creates room to inject mental fitness practices intentionally through the day: in the morning, after lunch or in between meetings for example.

Whether it is meditation, breathwork, NSDR, flow state or journaling, adopting a practice has multiple benefits like structuring the day, extending your mental capabilities for the long term and providing extra mental resources in the moment. What’s important is to start small and pick up a habit around a practice that fits you.

If this sounds like something you want to do, we’ll be running an alpha cohort for our mental fitness course this summer. Register interest here!


This post was written by Louis, Ale, Antoine and Greg.

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