(IJCH) Outdated Survival and Coping Mechanisms (or How Ancient Biology and Psychology Hampers Modern Life. What Can You Do About it?)
IJCH - Inside JaiChai's Head (meaning: My warped, personal opinions and musings)
From the Author:
I am JaiChai.
And if I haven't had the pleasure of meeting you before, I'm delighted to make your acquaintance now.
From the dawn of man to the present day, the strong human survival instinct unconsciously prompts everyone to focus on negative things first.
"Hey Ugh, did you see that saber-toothed tiger?"
"No Slag. I was making sure that snake didn't get close enough to bite us!"
Many studies have shown that most people will attend to negative things 10 times more often than positive things.
Fast forward to the present and we see that this ancient survival mechanism is blatantly obsolete, but remains ensconced in the human psyche, and stubbornly prevalent in all but a few cultures.
Everyone knows that the media loves to report sensational, negative events.
We are hardwired for survival; meaning: to unconsciously key in on negative, potentially harmful scenarios.
Obesity - Damn That Biology
In Prehistoric times, the ability to store fat meant survival through the extended, rough times of unsuccessful hunting and plant foraging.
I mean, it's not like a caveman could do this:
Even in ancient Greek and Roman times and through the Renaissance, being overweight was considered not only "good breeding stock" - less infant mortality, but also a sign of affluence (and even erotic).
But now, with the overabundance of high calorie, low/no nutrition food, our ability to "store fat for the winter" is no longer necessary; hence, obesity is prevalent in all developed countries.
In fact, in the United States it has reached epidemic proportions. And sadly, the trend in children and young adults is steadily increasing.
I won't bore you with the long list of adverse effects on health that obesity causes.
The point is that our society's ability to make food available has advanced, while our biology is still in the caveman stage.
Fight or Flight - Same, Same
The fight-or-flight response (also called hyperarousal, or the acute stress response) is a physiological reaction that occurs in response to a perceived harmful event, attack, or threat to survival. It was first described by Walter Bradford Cannon.
We don't have to contend with large, predatory animals Hell bent on making us their lunch anymore.
But when it comes to our biology, stress is stress.
Job, family or societal stress evokes the same biological response as when fleeing from a Sabre-Toothed Tiger.
Additionally, while stress used to be a temporary phenomena (e.g., fight/flight - then safe from danger), in today's modern life, stress seems to be a chronic condition.
And of course, that leads to more physical and oftentimes, mental - health problems.
Note: There are two kinds of stress:
The negative, physiologically debilitating stress that many people know too well and something called "eustress":
Definition of Eustress
Eustress means beneficial stress—either psychological, physical (e.g. exercise), or biochemical/radiological (hormesis).
The term was coined by endocrinologist Hans Selye, consisting of the Greek prefix eu- meaning "good", and stress, literally meaning "good stress".
Eustress was originally explored in a stress model by Richard Lazarus. It is the positive cognitive response to stress that is healthy, or gives one a feeling of fulfilment or other positive feelings.
Selye created the term as a subgroup of stress to differentiate the wide variety of stressors and manifestations of stress.
Think of eustress as good stress - the tension required for a violin string to produce music; while the bad, negative stress is akin to putting too much tension on that violin string until it snaps!
It is much too easy to become apathetic.
Most of the time, the majority of the population acts like the old dog depicted in the following story.
The Old Dog on the Porch
A salesman was going door to door in a small Southern town. On almost every porch there was a dog sitting or lying around enjoying the day. They would all bark to greet him as he walked by.
But on one porch there was a dog whimpering and whining and howling like he was in pain. Every time the man walked by, that dog would whine and howl and it just wouldn’t stop. He couldn’t figure out why it wouldn’t wag its tail and bark like all the other dogs in the town.
After a while, curiosity got the better of the salesman. He walked up to the porch, past the whining dog, and knocked. An old man opened the door and asked if he could help him. The salesman said, “Sir, is there something wrong with your dog? Every time I come by here he’s just moaning and groaning, whimpering and whining. What’s wrong with him?
“Well, he’s actually sitting on a nail,” the owner replied. Quite puzzled, the salesman asked, “Why doesn’t he just get off?” The owner replied,
"Well, I reckon it don’t hurt him bad enough yet."
(Excerpted from: https://togethertothetop.com/the-dog-on-the-nail/)
Techniques for Successfully Coping in Today's Modern World
The first step is always awareness.
Be aware of how you're letting the environment affect you. Are you allowing unimportant things upset you?
Do you even know the difference between important things and unimportant things?
If not, I recommend learning the ""Important - Urgent Time Management Matrix" by Dr. Stephen R. Covey.
Don't Succumb to the Illusion of Importance.
And remember to avoid Quadrant 3 of the "Time Management Matrix" as much as possible:
Quadrant 3 – Not important and Urgent
Also called the quadrant of deception, people often confuse important tasks while in fact they are not important. Or people think the task is urgent but it really is not (and thus should belong in quadrant four).
If you haven't had the chance to read "The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People" by Dr. Stephen R. Covey, I urge you to do so immediately.
The first habit deals with overcoming complacency:
Habit 1: Be Proactive is about taking responsibility for your life. You can't keep blaming everything on your parents or grandparents. Proactive people recognize that they are "response-able."
Increase Your Willpower Through Cognition
Lack of willpower will make most people throw up their hands, acquiesce to external pressures, and resign themselves to a fate of silent desperation.
But did you know that you can increase your willpower through cognition?
Let’s assume that you are not hypoglycemic and fit. Now what?
Your cognition (mindset) is your safeguard from ego depletion.
Just like Olympic athletes that rehearse success, you can rehearse willpower success. Pre-enact every detail of your success. You will find that your normal ego depletion situations will slowly be less and less depleting.
We are humans with almost an infinite capacity for learning and adaptation.
Unfortunately, most will pay lip-service to this solid advice and prefer familiar misery to what appears to be dangerous, unknown waters.
To each his own.
Let me share with you a universal truth that emerges from all the research investigating willpower.
If you have a scarcity mentality; that is, you believe that willpower is a limited resource, you’re right.
If you have an abundance mentality; meaning: willpower is inexhaustible, you surely will suffer less ego depletion than most.
For more on cognition, nutrition and exercise's affect on willpower, click the below link to:
"(IJCH) Pillars Or Pariahs: Is Your Diet, Daily Routine And Mindset Helping or Hindering Your Willpower? (Understanding How All Three Can Support Or Scuttle Your Willpower - And What You Can Do About It."
Sadly, the tendency to key in on negative things before positive things represents a major barrier in accepting the positive nature and ever-present abundance of the universe.
And you cannot force this revelation onto anyone.
It must be self-directed.
If not, when the external impetus (aka: emotional crutch) is no longer around, the motivation quickly dissipates.
They must embrace it for themselves on a deep-down personal plane; not superficially, nor vicariously - and certainly not a moment before they are truly ready.
My Sincere Invitation
I invite everyone to take that inner journey.
Because I get immense joy to observe the influx of self-knowledge, connectiveness and serenity that magically, inevitably occurs in my new friends.
They learn how to honor themselves and to love others courageously and unconditionally.
In short, they become capable of truly celebrating all these precious moments we call life.
And then we can dance wih the universe together.
Thanks for stopping by.
About the Author
Believing that school was too boring, he dropped out of High School early; only to earn an AA, BS and MBA in less than 4 years much later in life – while working full-time as a Navy/Marine Corps Medic.
In spite of a fear of heights and deep water, he performed high altitude, free-fall parachute jumps and hazardous diving ops in deep, open ocean water.
After 24 years of active duty, he retired in Asia.
Since then, he's been a full-time, single papa and actively pursuing his varied passions (Writing, Disruptive Technology, Computer Science and Cryptocurrency - plus more hobbies too boring or bizarre for most folk).
He lives on an island paradise with his teenage daughter, longtime girlfriend and three dogs.