Same Basic Design, Novel Use
We are not as unique as we believe. The human mind is not a blank slate. The way we think and behave has a lot to do with our primal ancestors. A lot of what is commonly argued to be a human trait can be found in other animals as well. At most, we can claim to use the same basic principals, and take them to the extreme.
All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others – Animal Farm
We are not the only species that goes to war to protect our territory. We are the only species who go to war to protect our ideology. We are not the only species with understanding of self and other. We are the only species that can understand multiple levels of other (“I know you know that I know he knows about…”). We are not the only species who practice Tit-For-Tat. We are the only species who understand the difference between the means and the end.
There is a lot we can learn from other species about ourselves.
Understanding The Dopamine High
closely associated with reward-seeking behaviors, such as approach, consumption, and addiction. Recent researches suggest that the firing of dopaminergic neurons is a motivational substance as a consequence of reward-anticipation. This hypothesis is based on the evidence that, when a reward is greater than expected, the firing of certain dopaminergic neurons increases, which consequently increases desire or motivation towards the reward.
Or, in laymen terms, Dopamine what the brain pumps when it is anticipating reward. This is not unique to humans. What is uniquely human is the extent they can hold the Dopamine high. We can hold on to our dreams for years.
You work hard to get good grades, so you can get into a good university, so you can get a good job, so you can retire to the nursing home of your choice.
The Nursing Home Of My Choice
I am a very competitive person, but I only compete with one person. Myself. In fifty years, I’ll be old and wrinkled. And I’ll smell of cabbages. There’s nothing I can do to stop it from happening. Nobody can (although, some try). One afternoon, as I sit in my rocking chair, wishing my grandchildren will holo-visit me more often, I’ll look back on my life, and what I have accomplished.
Although there is only one of me now, there are many possible outcomes to my life. There’s Lonely Wolf who never gets married. There’s Lucky SOB with millions of dollars in the bank. There are also Family Man, Poor SOB, Happy Hippo, Fat Bastard, and a lot more. Every choice I make moves me closer to one of these.
In my head, I hold dear to one of these old geezers, and I try to aim there. He is my competition, as he will have succeeded in everything I do, even though I will probably not. I don’t mind. I need a target to aim at.
Although my motivational source is very personal, I realize it’s easier to stay motivated by sharing stories with other. That’s why I was so happy to sit with a few entrepreneurs for a fascinating dinner, something I hope doing again. That’s why I’m writing here.
In It For The Long Run
One last point.
Our days are cluttered. We have too much work, too much dept, too many commitments and responsibilities. Keeping the target far in the future forces me to stop every once in a while, raise my head above the water and look ahead. I’ve learned this moment of self-awareness can do wonders for your sanity.