"It's amazing how much 'mature wisdom' resembles being too tired." --Robert Heinlein

The Church of Reality




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Insights from Lost & Found

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Evolution and emotions

Healthy humans experience and express the entire range of emotions, from time to time. It doesn't matter whether they are single or coupled, wealthy or working class, busy or lazy, HOT or plain, old or young, disciplined or libertine.

Why haven't humans evolved to be happy all the time? Isn't that what we all want, to live happily ever after? Heh, evolution doesn't give us what we want.

Survival and reproduction require experiencing and expressing the entire range of emotions. People who are happy all the time aren't motivated to take care of themselves properly, they're just as happy regardless of whether they are successful at survival and reproduction. Ditto for people who are unhappy all the time. Without a cycle of positive and negative emotions, people won't make distinctions between good and bad, useful and useless, successful and failed. They won't change their behaviors in response to changing conditions.

For example, if a person never felt pain, he wouldn't remove his hand from the stovetop, he wouldn't seek medical attention for food poisoning, he would let his teeth rot inside his head. If a person always felt pleasure, he wouldn't bother leaving the house, wouldn't seek relationships with other people, wouldn't diet or exercise, wouldn't need to have sex.

As a healthy human, you can't avoid experiencing the entire range of emotions, from time to time. However, you can avoid expecting that you'll always be happy. You can avoid kicking yourself when you're down by expecting that you should always be happy. No, you shouldn't.

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