Ever asked yourself the following questions:
- Why can't I just be happy?
- When will I arrive?
- How come nothing is ever enough?
- Why do I always want more?
Or maybe you feel a latent, general anxiety. Take heart. You're not alone. Overall, these emotions are indications that you're...human.
Here's how David Cain, the genius behind Raptitude: Getting Better at Being Human, links our constant disgruntlement to evolution.
If one of our ancestors ever actually became happy with his possessions, with his social standing, or with what he had accomplished in life, he would suddenly be in a particular kind of danger. There was no cradle of civilization to depend on if something went wrong. So survival required us to make our own safety nets. Having enough could never feel like enough, or else we’d become complacent, leaving us vulnerable to predators, competitors, and bad luck.
Lasting happiness was too risky. This instinctive need for what we don’t yet have creates in us a persistent state of dissatisfaction. Without it, our ancestors would always be only one failed hunting session away from starvation. This simple, ruthless script is programmed to drive survival at all costs. It works exceedingly well for this purpose, but it leaves us feeling stress and unpleasantness much of the time. Unhappiness is nature’s way of keeping people on their toes. It’s a crude system, but it has worked for thousands of years.
I found that immensely comforting. What about you? Let me know in the comments!
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