Our Ancient Past & Negativity Bias

Our Ancient Past

For most of our human existence we lived in small groups of hunter-gatherers. Their technological advancements were the fist steps on a very long journey to the life which we know today. They tamed fire, using it for cooking, warmth and protection. They had a deep knowledge of plant life, and they mastered stone technology using it for hunting, protection, and art.

Negativity Bias

Ancient artifacts left behind by these groups can be found in certain places all over the globe. However, each and every one of us carries with us in the deepest recess of our minds a relic passed down by our ancestors: a propensity for negativity. Göbekle Tepe was buit 11 to 12,000 years ago. It is believed that this is the oldest known temple and it was built by hunter-gatherers.

To better understand this, lets look at what hunter-gatherer’s were best at – hunting and gathering food:

Hunter-Gatherer’s forage for food

Dr. Hanson used food to represent positivity. Imagine a group of foragers looking for food. If there was no food in their immediate vicinity, they knew they would find more food a short walk away. However…

Hunter-Gatherer’s hunting as a group

…if the group were not always watching for trouble, they could have been killed by a predator or another group looking to take their provisions. So they had to constantly scan their environment for any sign of danger. Negativity is a much stronger survival tool, and we still use it today.

What does this
mean for us?

When we are not doing
much with our minds, our brains scan for possible threats creating a sense of anxiety. Our brains are quicker at detecting negative information, and it is more efficient at storing that negative information.

Now let’s add life into the mix.

Loneliness, depression, anger, trauma, disappointment, perceived failures, loss, grief, and the list can go on and on. These experiences of life combined with our natural inclination for negativity can send us into some very dark places.

This can lead us into feeling:

  • Lost
  • Overwhelmed
  • Stuck
  • Completely limited
Ultimately making us feel like:
  • Our problems are a permanent part of our life.
  • They are pervasive and dominate all parts of our life.
  • And they become very personal which makes us feel trapped within our existence.

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