happiness has a bottom side, last snow wallpaper, evolution and cultural influences

Happiness ain’t all it’s cracked up to be

– According to yet another study on happiness from the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia happy people are often so focused on themselves they tend to be more selfish. *Which makes sense. If you’ re putting a lot of effort into making yourself happy, some of that could be at someone’s expense – literally and figuratively.

– Happy people – people induced into a good mood by the researchers tended to be less willing to share compared to those that had just watched a sad or serious dramatic narrative. *Never the less people that smile and seem happy attract other people and some studies have shown that happiness is contagious. That happy virus might be doing two counter-intuitive things simultaneously – people enjoy themselves more yet care less about the well being of others. The others would be considered downers I suppose.

– The study finally gets to the concept of a kind of sweet spot of happiness – happy, but not manic and insensitive. Whew. Perpetually smiling perky people seem a bit manic to me, but seeing people in emotional pain is even more disturbing. The pressure to be happy, a strange phenomenon of modern western culture, probably does not add any incentive and likely makes things worse. Ever had something bad happen and some twit comes up and says something nauseating like hey turn that frown into a smile – at such times its tempting to say my dog just died so f**k off I’m entitled to feel sad right now. Some people just look happy – see the Mona Lisa – and some just look sad – a product of bone structure, not mood, so I find it best not to assume.

– Happy people are more susceptible to being conned and have poorer memories. * One ingredient to being happy, once you’ve had some life experience – is to put memories of  tragedies out of mind. If you’re always happy maybe you’re too good at that.

* Two possibilities not mentioned in this study is that the sample and the methodology were too screwy to reveal any insights into happiness.

winter mountain stream

last snow wallpaper

Why do people drink cow’s milk. Why is cow’s milk considered a staple that is carried by every corner market and what does that have to do with human evolution. Human Culture, an Evolutionary Force

Although it does shield people from other forces, culture itself seems to be a powerful force of natural selection. People adapt genetically to sustained cultural changes, like new diets. And this interaction works more quickly than other selective forces, “leading some practitioners to argue that gene-culture co-evolution could be the dominant mode of human evolution,” Kevin N. Laland and colleagues wrote in the February issue of Nature Reviews Genetics. Dr. Laland is an evolutionary biologist at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland.

[   ]…The best evidence available to Dr. Boyd and Dr. Richerson for culture being a selective force was the lactose tolerance found in many northern Europeans. Most people switch off the gene that digests the lactose in milk shortly after they are weaned, but in northern Europeans — the descendants of an ancient cattle-rearing culture that emerged in the region some 6,000 years ago — the gene is kept switched on in adulthood.

Lactose tolerance is now well recognized as a case in which a cultural practice — drinking raw milk — has caused an evolutionary change in the human genome. Presumably the extra nutrition was of such great advantage that adults able to digest milk left more surviving offspring, and the genetic change swept through the population.

Modern humans are not naturally selected to the degree we once were – though whether we might still be evolving is complicated. Culture might also be shifting some ellele frequency – remember this recent study in which it was found that women are  generally becoming more attractive ( though men are staying about the same). Some reasonable skepticism is due, but let’s set that aside for the moment. If true, that means cultural pressures are pushing modern human evolution. In comparison to even fifty years ago much of western culture is seating down more and spending more time at relatively passive – OK at least less physical – endeavors like watching videos and surfing the net. Texting and Twitter are affecting language and even how we form thoughts to communicate. There is a conscious effort to trim down sentences to their bare essentials. It is not uncommon to see people act insulted by a request for a clearer explanation of what they mean in daily conversations. Is asking for clarification already evolving the cultural stigma of rudeness. How will we look and how will we talk in 200 years as a result of being less active and thinking in short, sometimes coded, phrases.

city train station collage