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Are Humans Wired to Survive?

stressedBelow is an excerpt from an article by Charles Bryant that makes a clear case for our evolutionarily hardwired instinct to survive. I’ve been thinking about this lately and believe our instinct to survive may prevent us from “Living in the moment”, something I believe we all strive for.

Our brains manage to keep us on alert and aware of what is around us 24 – 7. It is clear that this is an essential element of our survival mechanism, however it is also easy to see how this state of ever anxious anticipation might also prevent us from fully enjoying each and every moment of our lives (interesting right?). Our body and brain’s “Fight or Flight” instinct is usually discussed in the context of our reaction to eminent danger, but actually our brain’s our working all the time anticipating what is around the next corner or keeping us aware of the strange character sitting at the next table. It is this wonderfully complicated computer that keeps vigil over our environment every second of every day. My question is however, does the fact that we are continually “on guard” mean that we lose out on the ability to, as they say, “smell the roses” Here’s the case made by the article….

“So are humans wired to survive? It sure seems like it. There are many examples of hard-wired human instincts that help keep us alive. Perhaps the most obvious case is the fight-or-flight response, coined by Harvard University physiologist Walter Cannon in 1915. When humans are faced with danger or stress, a biological trigger helps us decide whether to stay and fight or get the heck out of there — flight.

When we’re stressed or staring danger in the face, the brain’s hypothalamus is activated. It initiates a series of chemical releases and nerve cell responses that gets us ready for the impending scenario. Adrenaline is released into the blood stream, our heart rate increases, blood is pumped more quickly into our muscles and limbs. Our awareness, sight and impulses all intensify and quicken. You can thank our caveman ancestors for this one. Early man faced a lot of dangers, and the fight-or-flight response evolved to help them evade or battle those dangers in order to survive. Today, it’s what allows an ordinary Joe to rush into a burning building or a mother of three to lift a car off of one of her children — a phenomenon known as hysterical strength. It also helps us out in non-life threatening situations like a boss screaming in your face or possibly fleeing — or getting involved in — a barroom brawl.”

In the below quote, the Dalai Lama calls it like it is, but just maybe this is by design and not entirely our fault?

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