Survival of the fittest?
What is it?
Are we mutants?
Are we an "accident"?
Did we, yikes, come from monkeys?
A brain that is beyond beyond
Use it? Why?
Control our lives and emotions?
[Note that virtually all of our unhappiness comes from something construed as not good for survival of the DNA and our happiness comes from something construed as being good for survival of our DNA, such as procreation or even tribal cooperation. Although these are at the core, humans have also evolved to be able to create meaning (which you must understand, if you are to have a good life!).]
THE KERNEL OF EVOLUTION
The DNA that survived was that DNA that worked better for survival of our DNA. (Duh!) We are therefore "wired" (via our DNA structure passed on to us) for the passing on of our DNA, which depends on both 1) our surviving long enough and 2) our being driven to procreate. (Just notice what drives us! And notice how we can unintelligently follow those impulses that do not actually improve our lives.)
To that extent, we are at our core "mechanical", but fortunately one of the things that happened in evolution to have us survive better was a particular human function that has us experience life at a unique plain, where we can add and seek meaning that makes life ever so worthwhile beyond its basic "DNA passing" mechanics. Our "purpose" is no longer just survival, for survival is virtually assured today in most of the world.
Now, read on to understand why this is true and how it came about. And, more importantly, to understand how to manipulate the mechanics of mind and emotion better to gain more of what you want in life (and to get less of what you don't want in life!).
THE BAD NEWS
The universe does not align with our thoughts or become friendly because of how we think. The mind does not "intend" anything; it is a 100% mechanical, with no mysterious force within.
THE GOOD NEWS
Evolution has brought us to incredible heights of ability (though not the perfected ones we artificially expect and make ourselves unhappy about). We have a higher brain with which we can appreciate things and make great decisions, based on our great ability to learn and reason. From that, we can create unbounded (i.e. we won't reach the outer boundaries) sources of satisfaction - and happiness.
To do all of this you must understand how things work and how to work them. Understanding evolution is a mandatory part of creating that understanding.
Evolution takes a very, very long time to make even one change and a 100,000 years or so for major changes, as the changes essentially can occur only each generation.
We have not evolutionarily changed much since 10,000 years ago when we were "cavemen" (or jungle people or ...). We only evolved to the level to handle what was true at the time. We have not evolved for the current world complexity, so we have limits, which we must learn and then manage around. (If we leave it up to our evolved hunger and eating needs, we will get fat in a world with plenty of food and no famines to stock up for. We will naturally, if we don't adjust mentally and strategywise, end up being El Blobbo or Pokeyman.)
We must learn the reality of our limits, what we can and cannot handle (i.e. how things work), and then manage around those realities - without magic or giant leaps or the super-discipline we think we should have, but actually don't. Essentially, we manage ourselves and navigate around the limitations in order to get the most we can out of life - but we can't change certain ones of them, period!
What made us survive better in fact survived - as surviving long enough enabled us to pass on those genes that had us survive better, while the other not-as-good-for-survival genes disappeared over time. As part of this "natural selection" process, we evolved to have a higher brain, but also a lower brain that is super-effective at sending off danger signals, which ability caused us to survive better also. The higher brain, however, was the essential extra that created our ability to survive under varying conditions, which no other species can do. Unfortunately, we have not had time to evolve to adjust to the quantity of modern stimuli, so our lower brains, if we don't use our higher brains and intentional re-conditioning, overreact, react too often, and create stress which kills us besides creating unhappiness.
If we don't manage those much, much better, we cannot live well.
SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST?
We've all heard the Darwinian "theory" called "the survival of the fittest". We've interpreted that, at times, as "dog eat dog", as "cruel", or some such other made-up idea. But it is just "natural selection," which is simply a scientific reality, with nothing mystical or magical about it.
Evolution is not fair nor unfair nor cruel nor mean. To call it uncaring, implies that it has a choice of whether to care or not, but it doesn't. It is entirely neutral and mechanical. (See Is Life Fair?.) However, the mechanics are such that it is highly beneficial to us.
WHAT IS IT?
Evolution is merely a mechanistic process, though one which is very, very, very, very fortunate. Without it, we wouldn't exist, so it is, in a sense of the word, the most beneficial miracle that ever happened - and therefore the thing for which we most reasonably would be the most grateful for. (Actually, it is more logical to be most grateful for the fact that we were born at all, as the odds of our being in existence were so infinitesimal. Even to have the sperm find the egg was an infinitesimally lucky occurrence.) See Life Is A Friggin', Incredible Huge Miracle!
To understand it, one must "think in reverse".
Most people believe that there must have been a design ahead of time to create all of this. It could be, but it is highly unlikely that an intelligent being came about and designed it and then kept us in the dark about it for some strange reason. The intelligent being wouldn't be THAT stupid, to do the latter. But then we also create the dilemma of how did that intelligent being happen to come into existence? Through evolution?
Anyway, on to evolution.
ARE WE "MUTANTS"?
Somehow "mutation" came about. Things somehow accidentally and randomly changed and/or, in a sense, new things came about. These mutations are very little ("minute") changes happening very, very, very, very seldom.
ARE WE AN ACCIDENT?
Through an infinitesimal chance, somehow, by accident, carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen combined to create life.
"Alive" means "able to transform something into energy to create existence past one moment, moving as opposed to (mostly) fixed." A rock does not transform anything into energy, but a plant does.
Again by by chance, mutations changed the single "cells" and amoebas into more complex organisms that lived at least long enough to reproduce. The term "organism" means organization of materials in such a way that the organism was able to live. This happened by chance, an infinitesimal chance.
Why did those organisms "persist" and stay in existence? Because they were able to reproduce themselves (duplicate themselves) into two organisms - actually "splitting" into identical parts - which could then split and continue living until they could reproduce.
Subsequent mutations happened to create more refinements, with those mutations that were able to reproduce better than other mutations - so they stayed in existence and also proliferated more. The ones that didn't reproduce well simply didn't reproduce well, so they didn't get reproduced as often - and they often dropped out of existence (or didn't proliferate as much).
DID WE, YIKES, COME FROM MONKEYS?
Eventually, organisms mutated millions of times and advanced into incredibly more complex and varied versions called apes and monkeys - and then to man. We didn't "jump right to man" as if someone suddenly created us (unless you can explain to me how that "creating entity" itself was created).
If a mutation occurred, obviously by chance, which caused another person to be more attracted to that mutated person then that mutated person would likely produce more babies. It could have been a more rounded derriere or it could have been a characteristic that was associated with being more powerful and protecting our children - whatever it was caused either more mating to produce more babies or more hardy babies who tended to live longer more often, to reproduce more. Either way that mutation increased in number.
Based on the fact that the "more attractive" characteristics caused more mating, people with those genes became more numerous in number. We have gotten to be much more beautiful over the ages, although we don't see that in our culture. (Believe it or not we are attractive creatures, with some of us somehow convinced that we are not attractive, per advertising.)
Those mutations which caused us to have the characteristics that caused us to group together for safety and care of the young caused more people to survive by being in tribes. It was important for survival to be able to be "liked" by others or at least accepted for one's contribution in order to be kept in the tribe. We have genes that suggest that we do this, in a mechanical sense, but this is no longer needed since our tribes nowadays provide things automatically for us (in our part of the world anyway). See the discussion on our "Needs".
Some mutations created our being able to defend ourselves better or to keep ourselves safer, so those mutations lived on so that they could reproduce and become more numerous. Basically, we became better and better able to survive, because of those mutations that helped us better survive, including not only brawn but brain.
The mutations that survived and were passed on simply were those mutations that caused us to survive better and/or to engage in reproduction activities more often. There was no grand design. Survival just happened.
As a consequence, most of those mutations are only for survival and not necessarily for happiness. Our tendencies to be attracted by instinct to certain types of people are built into us and undeniable. Unfortunately, we are often attracted to combinations that don't work in today's environment, such as "bad boys" who are attractive because they appeal to the woman's estimation of their survivability in her primitive brain. Therefore, we must overrule some of these instructions from "Dumb and Dumber" (our two lower brains).
Eating, the gag reflex, feeling hungry so that we'll eat, peristaltic actions in the colon so we'd eliminate feces, etc., all helped us survive better. We even created the most complex compact insides to our body, to transmit blood, signals, other bodily fluids - and we fit it all into this body! A friggin' miracle that most of us don't appreciate nearly enough! (Life is good!)
A BRAIN THAT IS BEYOND BEYOND
We have a mechanism within a larger mechanism called a brain that looks for danger and sends out signals so that our evolved mechanisms can protect us (help us survive). Contrary to cultural myth, it doesn't do that out of 'love', it just mechanically follows the programming. It is not fair or unfair. It just does the best it can (which is pretty darned great) to have us survive. Except when some characteristic related to happiness is seen to increase survivability, that mechanism does not aim us toward happiness. Consequently, you'll notice, the brain is primarily oriented to its main function: to warn us of bad possibilities (dangers) much, much more often than it seeks happiness. For this reason, we humans are inherently negative in nature, but for a good reason: survival.
One fortunate happening is that the ability to reason and see things in perspective helped us to survive, so we gradually grew a special addition to our older brains, a new brain which improved gradually over time to become what is called the higher thinking brain.
Use it? Why?
It is totally up to us to use the most miraculous evolved mechanism ever created in the universe.
It turned out that we mutated (evolved) into a more and more complex brain, from the primitive to the kinda primitive to the "somewhat" intelligent to the very intelligent brain, all kinda stacked up together into a cooperative unit. (See How The Mind Developed.)
Most parts are run by themselves without the "thinking" brain being involved, only sending signals to that part of the whole big brain when it is programmed to do so.
The thinking brain might try to access the signals between cells, but it is highly unlikely that it can access those signals or interpret them. But it can pay attention to the more apparent signals that are sent, which are often equated to or are actually "emotions". See Emotion Management and Managing Thoughts. And it can screen those signals in a lower part of that part of the brain that is able to do more minor differentiation functions. That part is in the right brain and it can be developed further, as proven scientifically, by being used in such activities as meditation. The happiest people on earth, per a brain scientist, are Tibetan Buddhist monks, who have the largest and most developed part of the brain that produces happiness. See the Happiness section and "Rewiring The Brain", which can actually be done!
The thinking brain is adaptive, like most of the other parts of our body. It will take on data and add it to the thinking circuits and memory. It will convert unused materials in some brain circuits over to other circuits that are being used.
However, we must realize, as this is one of the most important points about reconstructing one's thoughts to create happiness, that a substantial portion of the data is misinterpreted and/or erroneous.
However, we have a brain with which we can develop the ability to "discriminate" and to "reason out" what makes sense and then to begin operate based on the higher and better data and thinking. Better data and better think, of course, will result in a much (much, much) better life.
However, some people don't have the necessary data and logic to realize that they can benefit greatly from doing that. Old beliefs passed on by people who haven't really thought them out are adopted and never questioned, through no fault of their own. To get them to commit to modifying those beliefs is a difficult process, as they often "resist" because of their old beliefs and because they need to get on with their lives, filling their needs and handling the danger signals as best they can. But there is no way to make progress if we do not free up the time and devote it to modifying those beliefs. (Interestingly enough, spending the time to replace those beliefs actually frees up more time than it takes - within a short period of time but also massively over the long tern!
Control our lives and emotions?
Though evolution was not in our control, it has given us a brain capable of taking control of our lives, a brain which can be utilized to intelligently offset the negatives caused by our primitive brain's overuse and misuse of our survival mechanisms that no longer apply to the world of today.
(Due to mankind's inventiveness and the consequent pace of changes in our lives, our brains could not possibly keep up, as evolution occurs in tiny steps taking place over 100's of thousands of years. We could not possibly evolve quick enough to adjust for what has happened in the last 10,000 years, much less evolve to keep up with the changes in the last 10 years!)
Since evolution can't provide us with an increased quality of lives beyond what it is now, it is up to us to be responsible for this and the only means to do that is through the use of our higher, thinking brain. (Duh!)
As we've discussed, we have "danger" signals sent out for things that are not actually threatening our survival, so we need to get better at screening and dismissing those by using our rational brain and some brain training methods(like meditation and cognitive behavior training).
If we react to false danger signals and believe that "stupid" thoughts from our primitive brain are real, then we set ourselves up for having too much stress and unhappiness. We had better do something to properly adapt to those and to run our lives for lower stress, more peace, and more happiness!!!!
We absolutely have the ability to change our psychology, make ourselves happy, and learn how to be more effective in life. That is what this site is dedicating to helping create, with your cooperation.