The human brain is wired for survival. Anatomically-modern humans have been evolving for roughly 200,000 years and human-like species have been evolving for approximately 2-4 million years. During that time, man's focus has been surviving drought, plague, and harsh environmental conditions, and as a result the human brain has had to become adept at examining its surroundings and determining threats to its existence. For tens of thousands of years man has needed to constantly worry about the possibility of death. It is only recently—with the advent of civilizations, societies, and nations such as those of the present-day developed world—that humans have lived comfortably and been guaranteed survival.
So many Americans suffer from depression and anxiety because our brains assign the same significance to inconsequential matters that they historically assigned to critical ones. Because the developed world provides survival, the survival-focused brains of citizens living in developed nations like America approach trivial issues in the same way it historically did survival. Since clean drinking water, food, shelter, and medical care are guaranteed here in America, our brains can ignore those things and focus instead on insignificant issues like our appearance, the quality of our cars, and the size of our houses. We apply the refined mental capacities that helped our ancestors predict the danger of eating a wild plant to whether or not our peers will like our clothes. Two thousand years ago when a drought hit we experienced anxiety wondering if we would survive the winter; now when we are dumped by our significant other we experience anxiety wondering if we will survive the loneliness of being single.
As Americans, we should recognize how historically privileged we are and not allow trivial things to make us depressed. We should not be ashamed or embarrassed that we are prospering, but rather we should remain anchored mentally and be content with our good fortune. We must also use our resources to help guarantee survival for others in less-privileged nations around the world.
By: Zach Good
In the video below, find out why depression and anxiety are so rampant in America.
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