We live an orderly society with the rule of law, we have food in massive abundance, there are not beasts trying to kills us, there is no threat of a neighbor coming over and trying to kill you and steal your wife or children and yet… many of us live in constant fear and anxiety.
Why? We are afraid because we are designed to be. Fear and anxiety have tremendous value when you are living on the plains of the Serengeti, in the jungles of the Amazon or medieval Europe. Fear is a defense mechanism to keep you alive when times are tough, food is scarce and people or animals are trying to kill you. Speaking in front of tens of your coworkers? Not life and death – yet we feel the same feeling as if we were being hunted by a lion. Our brains are using their survival system and applying them to modern life – where it just doesn’t jive.
We feel the same fears because human life has evolved a million times faster than our brains biology. In the thousands of years humans have been on Earth fear served us well, in the last 100 years? Not so much. Your boss, even the worst boss, is not going to kill you. Even in the worst recession, you won’t starve, even in the coldest winter you won’t freeze to death.
What can you do? You can’t control the natural fear you have, but you can at least be aware of it. We civilized world humans, we have it good. Try to quite the fear that your million year old brain systems have created and recognize, even at the worst, you have it really, really easy compared to the poor fearful bastards who huddled at night, were amazed by fire and happy they made it through the night.
Take it easy, life is good, I mean really good. There aren’t saber-toothed tigers after you!
PS. This is in no way meant to minimize the real and debilitating fears people have. I know they are there. I have them. But recognizing they come from a biological place deep in the brain can help us to navigate our modern fears.