In contrasting fashion I have read and are reading books that take similar concepts from different perspectives. In reading “The Upside of Your Dark Side” by Todd Kashdan I learned that just because we want something, even something we want really bad, it doesn’t mean we will like it when we get it. He explains that wanting and liking are handled by 2 different parts of our brain. In other words, when someone else tells us we should have or get something because it is great, we may realize after we get it that it isn’t great. While Todd suggests this happens because different parts of the brain handle each requests infers this may be a problem but to me it seems this is a good thing and should happen.
To me the process of wanting and possibly liking, as handled by our brain uses science or the Socratic Method. It seems what we are doing is one part of our brain, without experience, makes an educated guess or hypothesis that something is wanted or needed. We don’t know if it is right until we test it. After we test that something we will know if we do or do not want it. Isn’t that life? Marketing of course has confused the issue by manufacturing wants and confusing wants and needs thanks to Freud’s cousin Edward Benays. I will talk about marketing in future post.
Based on a recommendation of a respected friend I am reading and learning from Daniel Lieberman’s The Story of the Human Body: Evolution, health and disease. He explains we did not evolve to be happy and well adjusted. He also explains a lot about what Kashan says is our desire for comfort – an actual genetic desire. He explains we adapted to become what would make it most likely we would reproduce.
As he explains, adaptations to our biology happened to encourage reproductive success, not to make us happy or to have a long lived life or to achieve goals. If those needs overlap, then yes we did evolve for that purpose. However because we adapted through our evolution, what we were continually changed. Each time we adapted to optimize our situation, that optimization changed everything meaning we had to evolve again to optimize. These repeating adaptations are all part of who we are and helps explain why we are the we are. It also provides several reasons as to why we are less than rational. Our biology creates different wants and needs. We therefore are irrational because of our varied adaptations throughout our evolution.
Our irrationality is explained in detail by the Behavior Economics and brilliantly by Daniel Kahneman in Thinking Fast & Slow. For more information about these topics you can see posts here andhere.
For example, Lieberman suggests we get chronic disease because we are doing what we were evolved to do. The evolutionarily driven choices we make for food and exercise today were created for an environment of scarcity and discomfort not for todays world of comfort and abundance. This explains much…
I am learning a lot, I look forward to sharing as I learn more about how we can best generate comprehensive improvements by creating interactions so everyone and everything benefits. If you have read either of these books please share your thoughts. Thank you – I look forward to learning more…