Pedro Arantes
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The Evolution of Anxiety

The Delayed Return Environment causes chronic anxiety and stress because our brain was designed to live in an Immediate Return Environment.
#anxiety
Zettelkasten, May 22, 2020
Reading time: 2 minutes

Notes

  • Currently, humans are living in what researchers call a Delayed Return Environment.

    • We worry about problems that won't be solved immediately by our actions - we work today to get a paycheck in a few weeks, for instance.
  • The Delayed Return Environment causes chronic anxiety and stress because our brain was designed to live in an Immediate Return Environment.

    • Our brain has roughly the same size as our ancestors of two hundred thousand years ago.
    • On the other side, society became mostly a Delayed Return Environment about 500 years ago, which is a very small window of time for our brain to evolve.
  • The Immediate Return Environment creates some stress and anxiety. It was necessary to help our ancestors (and some wild animals) to survive.

    • A lion appears -> you feel stressed -> you run away to survive -> the stress is relieved.
  • Nowadays, we still expect the same process, except that the relived part doesn't occur immediately.

    • We imagine our future -> we need money to live well -> we study to get a good job -> but we don't get a job (and money) immediately. This causes chronic stress and anxiety because it isn't relieved.
  • Living and Delayed Return Environment means you're surrounded by uncertainty. We can do two things to minimize it:

    1. Measure something. When we measure something, we transform the unknown quantity and make it known, and you became more certain of something.
      • For instance, if you're looking for a job, count how many companies you sent your resume to.
    2. Shift your worry. Instead of worrying about a long-term problem, focus on a daily routine that will solve your problem.
      • Instead of worrying about living longer, focus on doing some exercises today.

References

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