The perception with modern living is one of ‘offense’, ‘making things happen; ‘constant advancement’, ‘DOING’.
This state of ‘doing’ has permeated our modern culture. Doers are lauded in society and often associated with success. We are all then encouraged ‘to do’ and ‘get things done’. But there are consequences to this that both impact physical and mental health.
The History Of Doing
Is there an evolutionary basis for ‘doing’? If we think about the evolution of the human brain to what it is now, we can see that the architecture is one very much that has involved the building up of new structures on old structures and all these structures being integrated through neuroconnections.
The oldest part of the brain is often referred to as our reptilian brain. The reptilian brain houses some key structures and are mostly involved in maintenance of homeostatic functions such as heart rate and digestion.
The next structure is often referred to as our ‘midbrain’ ; this houses important structures that help regulate our emotions.
The neocortex is the newest part (as the name indicates), this area is involved in consciousness and logic.
WHY HABITS ARE FORMED
The brain is a very metabolically demanding organ, that means it demands a great deal of energy to maintain its function. As a consequence we as a species needed to develop a way of managing brain energy consumption efficiency. This resulted in many of our actions and thought processes being automatised.
Through repetition and habituation many of our actions required little processing power therefore freeing precious cognitive space for novel experiences and learning.
Therefore, by pushing large amounts of our cognitive processes into the subconscious we achieve two things, greater energy efficiency and greater spare capacity.
WHY DOES THIS CAUSE STRESS?
Our brain structures are very much the same as they were tens of thousands of years ago. However, our living environments are radically different.
Our ancestors lifestyle was one that was very much governed by the circadian rhymes of night and day. As a consequence they spent large amounts of time with little or nothing to do - BEING.
Unlike the simple existence of our ancestors, modern living is one in which we are bombarded constantly with stimuli.