Our emotional brain was handed down to us by Homo Sapiens who lived in a completely different environment than the one we live in today.
And it’s their lifestyle, environment and dangers that they encountered that our emotions were designed to address.
The way we think, feel and act is greatly influenced by the experiences our ancestors went through millions of years ago.
This is known as “The Whispers of a Thousand Generations.”
What this means is, if you want to accumulate wealth, find love or be healthy, then you have to learn to avoid the “whispers” of your ancestors.
Often time, our primitive instincts are wrong and they lead us to make poor decisions.
Not all of our primitive instincts are bad instincts. Some are good. But learn to understand when you can trust your instincts and when you cannot.
Our ancestors didn’t live long a thousand generations ago. As a result, they spent most of their time trying to use up their resources instead of storing them.
Consequently, we now have this same instinct.
The idea of saving things for our long term future goes against our genetic instincts.
This is why it’s so hard for people to save money because most people’s instinct is to just spend their money.
When it comes to wealth, you have to go against this consumer impulse, our human nature, and move towards an investors discipline.
A big part of happiness is being financially independent and you wont achieve this by acting on this instinct.
In relation to love, jealousy for example is one of many instincts we must avoid.
Our ancestors who could find a mate were more likely to survive than those who couldn’t.
Mates when found meant that they had to be kept.
If you lost a mate to someone else, it was harder to survive so we adapted to feel jealous in order to prevent that.
Jealousy is a natural impulse and it’s okay to feel jealous, but too many people take this instinct to an extreme, which leads to violence and vigilance.
If you’re not careful, these instincts, such as jealousy, could stop you from feeling as happy as you could be in your relationship.
In an interesting article, anthropologists Peter Brown and Melvin Konner talk about health from an evolutionary perspective.
Brown and Konner say that we adapted to be obese because we’ve evolved to crave salt, sugar and fat.
For our ancestors, being obese was a reproductive advantage. Mothers needed the extra energy to support pregnancy and men needed the extra fat to hunt without feeling depleted.
But food was scarce back then.
Throughout human history, food was hard to find so when you found sugar, fat, or any other extra energy, we ate as much as we could because there was no guarantee that we would ever find it again.
Nowadays, we’ve adopted our ancestors tendency to crave salt, sugar and fat, but we take this instinct to extremes, which leads to many health problems.
When it comes to health, you can’t rely on your body to make good decisions, you have to help it.
You can’t consistently willpower yourself to not eat cake every night, you have to get rid of it because willpower is not going to help you out in the long run.
No organism is primarily adapted to be healthy, long lived, happy, or to achieve many other goals for which people strive.
We see this with fear.
Fear serves an evolutionary purpose to keep us alert and cautious so that we would avoid danger and live to see another day.
Fear is a human adaptation, meaning it was a reproductive advantage that led to survival.
But we’ve also adapted to be worried, anxious, and stressed, and this causes much unhappiness and misery in our lives, which negatively affects our happiness today.
Many of our adaptations did not necessarily evolve to promote physical or mental well-being.
Remember that our gut instincts are not uniquely our own, but are the product of those who came before us.
Ask yourself, what area in your life is the whispers of your ancestors doing the worst damage?