It is in human nature to stick to the things that are nice and cozy – things that give us a fuzzy feeling and a sense comfort. These things tend to be rather pointless in the grand scheme of things and yet so… nice, which seems to be increasingly important to us. To find an explanation for this behaviour, we don’t have to look further than basic biology. Being conservative literally conserves energy for growth and reproduction, and is very efficient in stable conditions. When things are predictable, you don’t have to worry about what’s to come. Hence, from the evolutionary standpoint this makes all the sense – in fact it is a very common survival strategy elsewhere in nature too, for microbes for instance. It works, it really does, but only if the circumstances don’t change drastically. For a colony of microbes, heavy changes in the surrounding conditions tend to lead to an inevitable death. This is not me suggesting comparing ourselves to bacteria, but for what I’ve noticed, evolution and biology usually work in a very logical and efficient way. There are many lessons to be learned there!
Luckily, there is another survival strategy – adaptation. That is to be more aware of your surroundings, spending more energy but having the possibility to adjust accordingly. In the face of change conservatism does not work, and pretending otherwise, forcefully clinging on to what’s comfortable is only detrimental. We can’t make progress and have all the “good old stuff” at the same time. We need to adapt, we need to learn to let go of things, and we need to stop giving too much meaning to things in the first place. From my own experience I can say that this doesn’t mean living a joyless, miserable life, but the opposite! Moving out of your comfort zone in any way is the best thing you can do in your own development, which potentially helps you to truly find yourself and reasons to enjoy life. Letting go of things is a great example of a growth enabling step, and essentially it is what stepping out of the comfort zone is all about in general.
The world’s population is growing exponentially, and more and more people can afford a wealthy lifestyle. This planet just can’t afford to provide us all with everything. As things change we must make the hard decision either to make some temporary sacrifices in order to survive and keep making progress, or to face the fate of a species unable to adapt. Certain things just weigh us down and put unnecessary stress on the environment by feeding the trifle industries. These resources could be redirected to something advantageous!
Culture and traditions – the biggest culprits in this game. Both of the words have positive connotations, and so are used to cover up for many things that aren’t worth keeping up or are straight up harmful. Last time I mentioned that a part of why culture and tradition are carried on so heavily, is our tendency to do what people around us are doing (which can of course be both good or bad). This could be said to be a kind of adaptation, as we adapt to the social environment, but when the social environment neglects the changes in the surrounding world… you get the point. *wink*
This is also one of the reasons why so many great empires that were thought to last forever fell at their time – simply by getting too comfortable. One might call our modern world the greatest empire yet, due to all kinds of unions and seemingly peaceful relations between most countries. It may seem impossible for it to fall, but for this exact reason it will. It’s up to us to make changes and to do our best living according to the circumstances.
When it comes to traditions, the ones in the western world may not feel as harmful or brutal as in Africa for instance. Mutilation of young girls’ genitalia is something that we can’t understand, but is still carried out because it is a part of the local culture – not to say this is universally accepted by locals either. However, examples of brutal traditions can be found in western cultures too, but the victims aren’t usually humans, so they often go overlooked. In Spain, bull fighting is a form of “entertainment” many people pay for, although fortunately it is slowly fading away and more people don’t accept it.
Furthermore, the horrors of industrial animal agriculture are kept going because so many of us contribute to it. This is seen as a tradition, or habit that we have been doing for a long time, even though the industrial methods have been commonly in use only for a brief moment in the span of our existence (which goes for pretty much all of the current traditions). And yet so many think this is how we’ve always been doing it. It was only after the World War II that the consumption skyrocketed, leading to the current eating habits, for which we are paying right now with our and the environment’s health (not to mention the animals!). Many actually recognise the consequences of high animal product consumption, but justification is found solely in it being a tradition, a habit and heritage – as if there’s no escape. There is!
So in order for us to keep making progress without jeopardising the future, there are plenty of traditions and cultural habits that need to be reconsidered. Each of us can make a difference by being critical, benefiting ourselves at the same time! Old traditions can always be replaced by new, more intentional ones.
Let me know what you think! Next time I’ll tackle quite a controversial topic, as I’ll talk about Christmas, which many of us find so very dear.