Are humans doomed to be stressed about something? Will we just find something to be stressed about, even when pretty much everything is going fine? First world problems: this kind of gets to the same point, we are just finding problems in our lives. As the bigger problems get solved, we move onto the smaller ones, until finally I get stressed that the BBC forgot to give me mashed potatoes with my cod (that was my lapse last week).
To be fair some people have legitimate reason to be stressed out. But I am talking about people who eat enough, have a stable source of income, shelter, clothing, free time, and recreation. I’m not talking about people who are on the verge of losing their house, or need to find money for food, or are legitimately concerned that a drone is going to bomb them. That is real stress.
But I am wondering if it feels the same to us. Would we feel just as stressed worrying about where our next meal is coming from as studying for a final?
I go back to evolution a lot, because I am really interested in human origins and species growth. It makes sense to me that at some time if you were not stressed, you were as good as dead. 10,000 years ago we should have been stressed about where the next meal was coming from, or we would starve and be unable to pass on our genes. We were stressed about the sounds that go bump in the night, because the people that paid those sounds no heed woke up dead—or rather didn’t wake up.
But then some of us get to this point where we don’t really have much to be stressed out about, and we still are, maybe because we are modern people living inside caveman bodies. I really had no stress in February when I was on a Caribbean cruise… go figure. Part of this was probably not watching the news all week, my world was so peaceful. But sometimes I would still find myself making up scenarios to be stressed about: what if I’m taken while visiting an island and Liam Neeson can’t save me!
It could happen, but the chances are minuscule, and thinking about something like that doesn’t solve the what-ifs anyway. So what’s the answer? I suppose my solution would be to set up a life where there is as little as possible to be realistically stressed about. If you create a community with like-minded people who solve problems in a similar way and share similar values, maybe that would actually reduce stress levels.
But there’s still that other piece of me that thinks no matter what we will be stressed. In my perfect little community, would it be the stress of group acceptance? That one is certainly linked to evolution, where rejection from the group meant certain death. So today, when people (especially teenagers) act like their lives are over because they have been snubbed by a friend, well maybe they just can’t help but let the caveman side of them take over: maybe they actually feel in their brains like survival is hopeless, being inextricably linked to group acceptance.
Don’t let me wonder alone! Tell me your thoughts on this!