Good – want more. Bad – get me out of here. This dichotomy is the root of most human suffering.
Your genes want you to survive and to create more copies. All that we are in this physical world arises from this. You can see this reflected in the world of cinema where violence and sex (survival and procreation) are present at some level in most films. It is these themes which most engage, titillate and thrill us.
Our genes, through the wonder of evolution, have provided us with the tools to accomplish our mission: an effective survival system (which includes ego) and a powerful sex drive. Everything is biased toward these objectives. Your genes do not give great priority to seeing things as they are, to creating happiness, peace in your heart or to have meaning in your life. It is simply to ensure that you survive long enough to produce viable copies. It does not take much imagination to see how this survival dichotomy “good – want more”, “bad – get me out of here” would be stunningly useful for a hunter-gatherer in a setting such as the African Savannah.
However, we are not hunter gatherers. Most of us live in cities. We live in an accelerated, fragmented, distracted society (a far remove from the African Savannah) where the predominant problems are how to avoid excess, discover meaning and to feel happiness. Thus to perceive and react to the world always through the prism of survival and procreation is both inappropriate and problematical.
So what can we do?
- Get the bigger picture: We contemplate the miracle of being alive, conscious and connected. When for example we look up into the infinite starry blackness of the night sky with wonder and appreciation, we never for a moment stop being part of the universe; thus we are a way in which the universe appreciates the wonder of itself. To see, appreciate and marinade our mind with such a gift is the first step to getting things in proportion. In this context we really see clearly that so much of the stuff we usually worry, whine or complain about is just ephemeral small crap.
- Choose a different prism: Instead of good/bad – right/wrong we see and adopt an attitude of open curiosity. We see that really what there is experience and learning. All experience is useful; all sensations, they are to be welcomed; each situation, each experience, however uncomfortable, has its information and lesson.
- Be kind to yourself: We are a paradox, we are both small and limited whilst at the same time being infinite and connected. This is very confusing for our little brains; we will frequently forget all of the wonder of life, seduced by our self-important compulsive mental chatter, distracted once again by the small stuff. When we return and remember the wonder of it all, the miracle of life, we accept ourselves with a kind smile; we experience and learn.