You know what is inside of us? We have these powerful instincts we think we can trust in (and to some degree this is true), but these instincts have adapted over time and most of them are no longer useful in the modern world. We have evolved. Our environment we live is has changed dramatically too. The reason we become addicted to McDonald’s and all this crappy fast food, sugar, salt and fat stuff is because this behaviour was useful in our earlier times. In the past there was not much fat, sugar and salt around. And when we finally stumbled about some sweet stuff like honey (which was literally found in honeycombs and most likely once every month or even every year), of course we eat all of it. We had to because back then we didn’t know when we will be able to get enough to eat again. It was a scare resource. Our bodies needed the extra calories.
In the modern world now you find yourself in an adapted mismatch. What is inside you is no longer of use for you. You can eat fat, sugar and salt in unlimited amounts now. Just like in “Super Size Me” this guy, Morgan Spurlock, ate at McDonald’s three times a day and nearly died. So, these instincts we have inside of us are in a way smart, but they are not always smart in the modern world. There are voices in your head telling you how you should behave in certain situation. Evolution, social conditioning and thousands of years of human development are influencing you everyday. There are things programmed into your brain, which cannot be easily changed overnight. The conditions back then – thousands of years ago – changed your brain to behave in ways that have benefited you at this time. Back then you were surrounded by people who would rather die from hunger than to get fat and obese. If your tribe would randomly stumble upon some honey or other sweet stuff, they actually had to eat it in order to survive. Their bodies needed the extra energy. So it was beneficial to eat as much sugar and fat as you could possibly get as soon as you had the chance to do so. Although this behaviour was important for survival in the early days, it is now no longer applicable in modern civilization. Now you are living in abundance and you can have as much salt, fat and sugar as you want (or don’t want) and you can do so whenever you want too. Now the whispers of 10000 generations are actually causing you pain and suffering. Your “inner voice” is telling you to do stuff which no longer benefits you. And in order to live a happy and healthy life you have to overcome this voice in your head.
A lot of your bad habits might be formed mainly by this evolutionary mismatch. You might start smoking because you value the immediate pleasure over the long-term benefits of a healthy life. Back then you were not living long enough anyways, so your brain is telling you that it is just fine. By the age of 20 most of your life has already passed by. The whispers are still telling you these lies. They try to convince you that smoking actually has no consequences because “you will die anyways very soon”. But again, this is where the mismatch causes you pain. Now we are living way longer. There are people aiming for 100 years and by cultivating unhealthy habits like smoking you might cut your lifespan by 60 years. You might not see your children grow up, just because of this weird voice in your head telling you that everything is OK. Back then, it made no difference, but now you are really harming yourself. You have to aggressively work against this voice. I am not going to preach about what is wrong and what is right, but I would advise you to at least consider the decision-making processes with your health issues. Where am I deluding myself?
The same problem appears with money. A lot of people feel no urge to save money based on the same reasons. Why would you lock money away when you can buy joyful and pleasurable experiences now? Why would you diminish your lifestyle? Isn’t life meant to be enjoyed? What about the #YOLO generation? A lot of these questions are very reasonable, but again most of these behaviors are conditioned by years of evolutionary programming. You can’t just hope to go against it from one day or the other. You 10000 year old mind won’t tell you that it makes sense to save some money along the way. How could it do so? It sees no benefit in it. Again, you would have been dead with the age of 30. But nowadays you are not even half way through life when you hit 30. If you stay healthy there might be 60+ active years ahead of you. Valuable years where the compound interest rates can work in your favour. In the early days it made no sense because you would not have been able to accumulate enough money to see the benefit from doing so anyways. But now you can. And if you are not saving money while in your twenties, you have no reason to complain about not being rich when you are in your forties. Sorry. Getting rich over the course of a lifetime is actually fairly easy.
So far we talked about health and wealth, two areas heavily influenced by years of social and evolutionary programming. Want another example how your brain messes with you? What about love? Could you believe that this evolutionary mismatch I am talking about here could cause you pain and suffering in your love life as well? Well it does. In your early years (evolutionary-wise) you were raised in a community with not more than 100-150 people in it. This is the maximum of faces your brain can work with, people it can trust. Now we are living in metropolis with millions of people in it. These are way too much for your old brain to cope with. You might feel overwhelmed and confused. Anxiety might creep in as well. This is the main reason why people love to go out in groups (with their friends) and party, because it is a social setting they feel comfortable in. House parties are awesome because this is what your brain can handle. Not too many people, and a lot of them very familiar. But in today’s club scene everybody is a stranger. People might not feel comfortable approaching random people and talking to them, they could be a “threat”. Your brain stands in the way of you finding love and happiness in your social life as well. Why do you think so many young couples meet each other through their social circles? Well, it’s the same reason. This is how our brain is wired to work.
If you are not happy with this behaviour and you want more choices than that, you might have to actively work against it. You might feel the pain of going against your urges, it might be difficult sometimes. And you might sometimes feel overwhelmed. But keep in mind that not all of your “gut feelings” have their right to be there anymore. Sometime you have to take over and be in charge. Sometimes you have to lead your life. Not a 10000 year old brain.