Issue 1 of Hacking Your Happiness
Welcome to my course on how to gain renewable happiness in your life. My name is James Emry and I’m excited to uncover amazing insights and share some of the coolest stuff I’ve learned over the past 6 years.
We’ll be covering a lot of evolutionary social psychology to dig up the underlying processes that hold humans back from finding sustainable contentment. So, for our first mini-lesson: what is evolutionary social psychology (ESP)?
ESP is a set of scientifically accepted assumptions that use the theory of evolution as a base.
ESP posits that our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors have been shaped over many years of biological selection.
[This simply means that, even today, we carry with us certain natural tendencies because they were once useful to survival over this long period of time.]
ESP helps explain why we hold stereotypes, why we get in autopilot mode on the well-known route to work, and even the reason we’re not still pumped up about our newest phone or gadget like on the day we got it.
We make sense of things in our environment and move on from them rapidly because we only have a limited amount of fuel for things like paying attention and assessing our surroundings.
Our evolutionary ancestors wouldn’t have been around long if they had to carefully evaluate their environment every day, after all.
Indeed, being able to automatically detect physical threats, sources of food, and mating opportunities were very useful “survival of the fittest” edges to have.
For instance, if you’ve ever been walking in the woods and flinched because you mistook a branch for a snake, you can thank your evolutionary ancestors...
Your flinch was an automatic, non-conscious movement that you had no control over. This example also helps explain why the fear of snakes is one of the most cited fears worldwide.
Takeaways and Reflections:
1) Most humans have certain aversions (like a hypervigilance toward and fear of snakes) that we’ve evolved for.
Do you have any of these statistically irrational fears (thinking about getting bitten by a deadly spider, but not thinking twice about texting and driving)?
2) We’ve been hardwired to adapt to things in our environment quickly to avoid over-analysis.
Can you think of any way that rapid adaptation has made you complacent with some of the things you now own that you once wanted so badly?
In the next bit, we'll answer the question: What does evolutionary social psychology have to do with happiness?