Nature designed us to survive.
Otherwise, we wouldn’t be here.
We inherit the traits that allowed our ancestors to eat and not be eaten.
My theory is that any trait that seems illogical and out of place is there because of the need to survive.
Can’t stop eating? Very useful if this is your last meal for two weeks, running through forests hunting. Not so much now, when you have to run on the treadmill and hunt diet advice instead.
Get offended easily and become aggressive? That’ll teach others not to mess with your tribe. Of course, less helpful today when you can get in trouble for arguing with a policeman, a teacher or a judge. And there’s not even a tribe that can benefit…
Can’t keep your mouth shut when you think you weren’t given your fair share? Definitely helps when a group of hunter-gatherers kills a mammoth. Not so much when you have to leave a job because you spend less time working than discussing how unfair your boss is…
Interestingly, the drive to have children is also the drive to survive. Makes no difference for Mother Nature if it’s you or your children who survive. In fact, even better to die after you’ve made your children self-sufficient. No point in wasting the space, your kids will do the job of surviving and producing own kids much better now, thank you very much.
Even the drive to be remembered is a drive to survive. Although in virtual form.
The truth is, most of us don’t have to struggle to survive anymore. If you have the means to read this article, chances are you have enough food on the table. Maybe even too much.
And even if we were to consider the skills needed to actually physically survive in today’s world, the stuff above would hardly help. No need to be aggressive to get food. If you are homeless, your best chance of not staying hungry is to look up the list of charities helping homeless people. Or to ask people for a few cents for the ticket home. Fighting for survival will land you in jail. Where, incidentally, you will get food. If you are lucky, it might even be a Norwegian prison.
The need to survive gave us our biggest curse of all. Our restless mind.
Yoel Harari in his wonderful book Homo Sapiens says that humans didn’t always rule the world. There were times when our ancestors had to eat what lions and jackals left behind. Looking over the shoulder in case lions decide to come back. So we are nervous and jumpy, we can’t ever relax. Our attention jumps from subject to subject. Handy if you are looking out for predators. Not so much if you are trying to finish an assignment on time…
So, next time you are consumed by feelings you can’t explain or justify, ask yourself, is that really you? Or is that Mother Nature running out-of-date software in your brain?
Because you can only start to truly live once you stop surviving.