Search

Evolution Doesn’t Care if You’re Happy

Things are probably not as bad as they seem.

Evolutionary psychology tells us that our brains evolved with a particular kind of quirk. It’s known as negativity bias. Because of this, we tend to pay more attention to what is wrong, difficult, challenging, or threatening than we pay to the many things that are beneficial, beautiful, healing and nourishing in our lives. Evolution doesn’t care whether we have a wonderful esthetic experience of a painting or a sunset. That might make you happy, but it plays no role in your survival. However, remembering where you saw the rattlesnake does matter to evolution, since this might influence whether we survive long enough to pass on our genetic material.

Another facet of evolution, however, can help us with this difficulty. For our brains are also what neurologists call plastic, meaning changeable. We can form new neural pathways that help us to be happier—something most of us care about even if nature is indifferent. For example, if we deliberately choose to focus our attention on what makes us happy, we can actually become happier. Just the simple act of writing down on paper 3 things that you are grateful for perhaps twice a week has measurable mood effects. Similarly, writing a letter of gratitude to someone who played a positive role in your life and reading it to them out loud, can lift your spirits for a month.

It may not matter from an evolutionary standpoint, but the capacity to be happier is possible. It takes only a little bit of consistent effort.

0 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Facing Mortality

Perhaps because of the Covid virus, it seems that I am having more conversations than ever with people about death. Unfortunately, there was no course in graduate school that taught me what to say ab

The Winds are Blowing

It’s a windy day here in New Mexico. More harbingers of the winter that is coming, which by all accounts looks like it is going to be a difficult one. This windy day made me think about another kind

On Not Becoming a Buddha

When you meditate, when you practice mindfulness in daily life, don’t aim at becoming a Buddha: Just meditate to enjoy the peace of meditation. Just be mindful to enjoy being mindful. When you eat you

Screen Shot 2020-12-20 at 7.46.41 PM.png
Screen Shot 2020-12-20 at 7.47.18 PM.png
Screen Shot 2020-12-20 at 7.47.07 PM.png
Screen Shot 2020-12-20 at 7.46.49 PM.png
Screen Shot 2020-12-20 at 7.46.58 PM.png

Books

Contact Me

Mail: Tom@mindfulpsychology.com

Tel: (505) 242-2603