In comparison to Mother Earth, the days of Survive or Die a slow and painful saber-tooth mauling death are not too far behind us. The suffering that our Paleolithweightic Ancestors endured would be considered barbaric and savagely crude if implemented in our current life- Hunger Games style. However, when looking at this picture a little closer, we still embody similar characteristics from our Primal family. In fact, they passed down some pretty gnarly survival traits to us that we are blindingly unaware of. Thanks for the heads up, Ancestry.com.
So let’s jump into the story time-time traveling machine.
Picture it, Sicily 1912…
Just kidding, but go back even further to the days of the Hunters and Gatherers. The days when a rustle in a bush either meant a new pet bunny rabbit that would taste good for dinner or an unexpected bear attack that would catch even a savvy Dwight Schrute off guard. It was kill or be killed times and your loin cloth was the only thing keeping you warm at night.
Here’s how our past and present instincts are colliding in our mental health mindset:
- RESTRICTION/BINGE EATING:
- If there was a famine or a scarcity of food in your village, your tribe would have went into panic mode and found/killed as much food as possible to ensure they wouldn’t go hungry, because who knows when they would find food again? On an incredible #firstworldproblem level, the same is true for our restricting/binge eating mindset. If we are starting a diet on Monday then we eat everything but the kitchen sink on Sunday because “who knows when we will see that “bad food” again”. So we eat it all to ensure our comfort is satisfied for he long road of deprivation ahead.
- THE FEAR OF BEING ALONE:
- The fear of getting kicked out of your tribe meant isolation or even death. You survived as a group back then and everyone had a certain job in their community. The second you stopped pulling your weight or did something that affected the lives of your tribe meant banishment. So you did everything in your power to blend in and keep up with the social standards. Again, on an extreme first-world-problems level, if you dare to step out of the trends or do the opposite of what the mainstream tribe is doing then it means ridicule and banishment of a different color. You more than likely won’t die getting kicked out of your tribes these days, but NOW everyone is worried about what other people think of them and how they are perceived by others. People are afraid they might look stupid or”What if they don’t like me?” or “What if they don’t like this post” or “What if what I have to say isn’t as funny as I thought it was?” The fear of rejection and not being loved is the truest form of banishment these days.
So how does this all tie in to our world today?
Here comes the first world problem breakdown timeline: (stay with me here, I know I’m jumping around but it will all make sense in the end)
You get out of High School feeling like you’re going to conquer the world. You’re a little scared as to what the future has to offer but you’re positive that you will become the next Beyonce in your field. Off to college you go.
“ONCE I GET OUT OF COLLEGE, I WILL HAVE A HIGH PAYING, STEADY JOB AND WORK MY WAY TO THE TOP AND BE SO HAPPY AND HAVE IT ALL!”
You’ve gone through college and as draining as it was, you made it through, partied hard and got through some serious struggles on how to manage your time. Now you are ready to start your career and become the most successful badass ever.
“ONCE I START MY CAREER, NOTHING CAN STOP ME! I AM GOING TO BE THE BEST THERE IS!”
Ok, this career is not nearly what you thought it would be. It’s been a year and you’re struggling HARD to make ends meet. Your credit card bills are jacked up higher than your Grandpa’s pants and you feel like you’re going no where. So you take the next job you see, it’s not directly in line with your field of expertise but it pays a little more. Plus, you just met the love of your life and things are only going to get better from here!
“SCREW MY JOB, ONCE I GET MARRIED, HAVE KIDS AND THAT WHITE PICKET FENCE HOUSE, MY LIFE WILL LITERALLY BE PERFECT!”
You’re thirty years old with two screaming kids, the house is a mess and that bathroom remodel project you’ve been working on for about 2 years now has sprung a leak. The dog just shit on the rug, you’re running late for a job you hate, you forgot to pack your kids lunch so you send them off with the last $5 you have in your pocket, and you haven’t had sex with your significant other since the Clinton Scandal. But all of this is your everyday life now so it’s normal to you. You find escape on those rare occasions when an old friend comes into town or that random Wedding your cousin had last month. You start to sink into this mundane life wondering what the hell happened to those vivacious goals you had 10 years ago?
“WHY THE FUCK AM I NOT HAPPY?”
Enter the Rise of the Sufferists. Nothing is hard anymore. In fact, we have to find the good things in life and make them difficult. We have a house with a roof, food on our table, and offspring that is healthy. Yet, our house isn’t the right color gray so we must paint it, we have too much food to eat so we have to track it, our kids are too bored to play on their iPad so now we actually have to sit down and play with them. Ughhh the horror…
Our Primal Ancestors would have KILLED to have an abundance of food, a microwave, time to play sticks and stones with their kids and a store to enter into where the meat was already skinned, prepared and wrapped up ever so neatly. Believe me when I say that I am one of the first guilty parties to admit that I am at the heart of this complaining. No way would I want to live back in the Primal days where the equivalent to going to the gym would be running after a Wild Boar for dinner. “No thanks, I just bought some Organic Chicken at Kroger on sale; I’ll just go get that out of the freezer.”
But here we are and here we sit, comfy in our warm beds wondering why the hell we have everything we ever thought we wanted but still aren’t happy.
The truth is, we have nothing to struggle for anymore because we stopped setting goals. You felt the suffering when you were going through it but you didn’t realize the power that it had on you. Think about it, you always say you want to go back to your College or High School days because you had fun and you looked forward to the next step in your journey. You had a dream on the horizon to get that great job and the world was your Oyster! Now you’ve “accomplished it all” and you’re still not happy. We can’t find satisfaction in the “I lived another day” Paleolithic days because Grocery delivery services, Amazon, and the Internet have made everything available to us at the touch a of a button. I’m not knocking technology by any means and thankfully, grocery stores have the replaced the Hunting and Gathering way of life and Modern Medicine will help us not die from plagues and disease. My point is, we have nothing to struggle for anymore thanks to these glorious advances.
I think the reason why most people go through a mid-life crisis is because they look at their lives and wonder WHAT THE FUCK HAPPENED to it. “I did everything I was supposed to do, I went to school , got a job, got married… I don’t get it.” They thought about that Business they should’ve started, that investment they should’ve went all in on or that call they should’ve made.
This is why the rate of Obstacle courses (Sufferfest), Marathons, Fitness Competitions, shows like Naked and Afraid, and hard core races have become so popular. People need to push themselves to feel alive anymore. Our lives have become so cushy and comfortable that the thought of competing in a Triathlon makes our butt tingle. Tell your Cave Man Uncle Grug that you want to run around the 24 mile long island then swim to the other island that is only 1 mile away just for shit and gigs… and he would’ve slugged you with his handmade rock sledge that he crafted after his 10 day hunt to find dinner for one night.
So when you feel like you have been floating through life on your heated, well lit, remote controlled canopy canoe; jump out and swim with the sharks. It will make you feel alive and spark your dusty dreams into ignition.
Scared? Good. Quit your job and start that Business. Make that call. Involve your family and don’t let the douche-canoe take you down a careful, luxurious stroll in the water.
Written with love, hope and shark bait by Christi Brown