Why is life so hard?1
Maybe, we made it that way.
In the distant past, before the agricultural revolution, humans lived with the same essential struggle as every other animal.
how to stay alive
As nomadic foragers, life’s problems were: how to eat and how not to be eaten. If you didn’t have good solutions, you died.
Today, in many parts of the world, we aren’t even slightly concerned with food or predators. Instead, our problems are entirely our own creations. For an individual, there’s career, spouse, house, diet, fitness, car, and et cetera. For a society, there’s law, government, economics, healthcare, agriculture, transportation, education, and et cetera.
These problems might be generalized to: how does one live amongst a huge group and how does a huge group live amongst each other. They are issues of cooperation and occupation; their nature is psychological and their composition is more complex. If we don’t have good solutions, most of us remain alive.2 However, being alive might not be enjoyable. In some cases, it might be miserable.
With a modern lifestyle, our essential struggle has been profoundly changed.
stay be alive
To be clear, I’m not suggesting ancient hunter-gatherers had better lives than we do. That is probably a question without an answer.
My point is far more benign, possibly banal; even so, I think it’s useful to remember but easy to forget. Our ancestors evolved for thousands of years to thrive in their environment, but we are comparatively unequipped for ours. Although we changed the essential struggle in an evolutionary instant, we’re essentially the same. To thrive in a modern life, there is much more to learn.3
We managed to transcend biology, but now confront psychology. It’s a different game. It has different outcomes. Good luck.
It may not be. That’s not the point.↩︎
Is that global warming’s music?↩︎
Inherently, there is a much greater range in potential quality of life. How does a white-collar worker’s quality of life compare to that of the San? The modern world does not imply inequity, but does enable it. Unquestionably, this dynamic has had a major impact in modern history.↩︎