— our evolutionary tale of the bodies external response to stimuli.
After a day of hard work and exercise, you come home and choose to reward yourself.
You go to the supermarket to buy your favorite treat.
You pick a delicious looking Ben And Jerries ice cream, but your mind stops you.
Asking you: Is this helping the body move towards its goals?
Congratulations, you have become aware of humanity’s hedonism -moderation clash.
According to Hedonism, life is about pleasure.
So if you had the choice to have dinner with friends or go to the gym by yourself; a hedonist would choose dinner unless he or she were sick.
During such dilemmas, your second opinion called common thought will say; moderation is the way.
In general, we believe that social health and physical health are of equal importance.
The choice depends in the end on your capability to bypass the hedonistic reward thinking.
The real question
My question is not why do have this constant struggle of choice.
But what are these rewards systems, and how have they evolutionary developed?
In my opinion, it seems unuseful in the fist place to have multiple rewards systems.
Three sets of Rewards Systems
Before we enter the realm of evolutionary biology, I have to explain Ray Dalio’s three grades of rewards loops in the body, as discussed in the book Principles:
- Instant Gratification
2. Emotional Growth
3. Psychological Strengthening:
A Tinder explanation,
Each time you match, you feel loved or wanted. This rewarding of mental pleasure is what we would call instant gratification.
After a couple of dates, you hopefully learn to understand that rejection of your personality has nothing to do with you but everything to with them. You reached a new plane of emotional maturity by realizing that you are the safe keeper of your happiness and sense of worth.
After dating for a lot of time, you will learn to see the pattern of yourself and the other. When you learn to change this attachment pattern, you grow spiritually and achieve more strength of character.
The Evolution of instant gratification
Back in the days, people had to hunt and gather to have enough energy to survive the day. After eating fructose (the sugar of fruit), the body restored its energy levels faster and gained some vital vitamines to heal the body. So the brain made a mental note, repeat this more often. Hence evolutionary speaking the body will always crave substances that make life easier.
Salt swallows water like a sponge and fends of infective bacteria or viruses. Humans originate from the sea; hence, our cells fancy living in a salty environment.
Companies like Lays, Pringles, Doritos, Ben& Jerry’s, Magnum, M&M have tapped into our natural addiction to sell their products. When we indulge ourselves in such salty or sugary foods, we get tricked by our natural tendency for physical optimization. Opening bag chips or chocolate wrapper often results in small food frenzy; finishing the entire bag of chips or the chocolate bar.
Present-day, there is an enormous pile of research that suggests that the excess in these substances causes mental and health disease. But this natural toxification of the body is still allowed by the law.
The second-tier reward system taps into the limbic system of the brain, where emotion and feelings are regulated. Our collective strife for happiness derives from endorphins. When we exercise the body destroys muscle fibers to rebuild stronger ones. During this process, we release endorphins, which creates runners high, or feelings of ecstasy during Ecstatic Dance.
Everybody who has physical routine knows this instinctively. So we as species developed sports to keep us excited by combining the trance of moving the body in a game environment.
Our bodies learn to crave the emotional regulation of the body and rewards by seeking out stress. In the physical department, you find exercising, but it also presents in communication, dating, and learning new skills.
When you realize that an obstacle is nothing more as the unsolved problem, you know you have tapped into the second tier rewards system. In the book Mastery, Robert Green calls this process the cycle of accelerated rewards.
And then we have the third-grade reward system, which taps into our neocortex. Stoicism, Buddhism, Taoism teaches us to flow with life. Inspired by nature, these thinkers learned to tap into the nature of consciousness and discovered three simple truths.
a) Men can’t control the outcome of external events but can be rooted in its soil like a tree in a storm. Instead of pressing against the wind, the branches bend along with the wind; like dancing with life.
B)Everything wasn’t meant to last. Water is constantly changing his form, from solid ice to fluid liquid, to a cloud of gas. Simular is life in perpetual flux. Rember, we consist of 60% out of water. So attaching oneself to a permanent state of things is folly and will lead to misery. The honest outlook of life is that your thoughts, body en environment are continually reforming themselves. Cling on to the past or future is a battle always lost.
C) Life is original and unique to the observer. Every object has a potency buried in itself. Like you can keep seed for years and then plant it, and the tree will grow out of it. Not a flower or vegetable or fruit. This destiny is determined from birth and in death. Hence we need to quiet down and listen to inner voice who has been shut down by education and parental beliefs.
Once you accumulate what these three simple truths mean, rewards become a story of the past. Livings is no anymore about the right making the right choices because you realize everything is attainable by perseverance.
When spirituality utters word enlightenment, people think it refers to what yogi’s call an eternal state of bliss and grace.
In my words, a human has to reach mastery of life. Only by the process of sustained focus through curiosity and innovation one reaches such heights of existence.
Guru’s are the masters of philosophy, virtuosi are the masters of music, and athletes are masters of exercise. All but names for the same thing or truth.
Mastery of life is your birthright as a human. I wish you good luck with your journey.
The only recommendation I will give for achieving such mastery is reading the books mentioned in this blog post.
Note: I am not a biologist but perceive myself as a philosopher. This blog post is written to make the reader reflect on his life.
This blog post is #17 of the 30-days creative writing challenge.