Modern humans lived as hunter-gatherers in small communities for around 60 thousand years, followed by about 10 thousand scraping a living as farmers, until the industrial era began less than 250 years ago. This evolved into the digital age of the last 50 years up to the present. The interesting thing is that our bodies and brains remain very similar to those of the early Homo sapiens. If we were able to compare the body of a hunter-gather ancestor with a modern human, assuming that the person today had a healthy, balanced diet and was physically fit, a doctor would have difficulty identifying much difference. We’re even hard-wired to be socially comfortable in small communities. Yet we live in a very different world. This may help explain why as modern humans in big cities we find it so unpleasant to be packed into trains with complete strangers.
The information-intensive world we live in today is a blur of messages, updates, and phone calls. The human brain has never been busier with masses of content to process. And it’s not just the information. There are tasks, to do lists, deadlines and a lot of unfinished business driving the momentum and complexity in both our work and personal lives. Add in today’s economic and environmental uncertainty and it’s no wonder we sometimes feel anxious and stressed. A lot of the anxiety and stress we experience comes from being overloaded, with too much to do and not enough time and space to think clearly and get things done, like trying to hold an important conversation with three radios tuned to different stations playing loudly in the same room. If only we could turn everything off and start again from a quiet and restful place.
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