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Good Reasons for Bad Feelings
Part of 10/28

od from an evolutionary perspective. When medication allows you to live free of panic attacks for some time your body and mind will start to recognize your environment as being safe. Your outlook will then adjust so that even when medication is no longer being taken your surroundings can continue to be seen as being no cause for alarm. 
Depression can stem from a dysfunction in the regulation of mood. 
Most of us are familiar with the debilitating effects of depression either through first-hand experience or through someone close to us. In fact according to a 2013 study published in The Lancet depression is the cause of more years lived with disability (YLDs) than any other disease.  
But despite the familiarity depression is notoriously difficult to diagnose. When does being in a bad mood cross over into depression? And how long is a period of grief following the loss of a loved one supposed to last before it qualifies as clinical depression? 
To unpack questions like these it hel
11/6/2019 11:39:53 AM
Good Reasons for Bad Feelings
Part of 11/28

ps to understand why we have different moods in the first place. 
Right now you may be experiencing one of any number of moods. Maybe you’re feeling demoralized or conversely enthusiastic. One of the primary reasons for these different moods is that they give us an advantage in figuring out how much effort we should spend when faced with favorable or unfavorable situations. 
Let’s say you’re back in the days of hunters and gatherers and you’re about to start picking berries. In performing this task you’d have at least three questions to consider: How intense should my efforts be at gathering the berries? When will I know it’s time to move from one area to the next? And when will I know it’s time to stop picking berries and move onto another task? 
All three of these questions can be answered by paying attention to your mood. Changes in your mood will help you to pick enough berries to satisfy your needs while also letting you know when to stop before you end up with too heavy a load. M
11/6/2019 11:39:53 AM
Good Reasons for Bad Feelings
Part of 7/28

 opportunity and a feeling of joy can accompany the kind of accomplishments we should strive to keep making. But while our feelings can encourage or discourage certain behaviors very few situations are purely beneficial or purely bad. So it’s natural to live life with mixed emotions. 
A doctor with a grasp of evolution will understand that a patient's negative emotions can be appropriate to a situation and not necessarily something to get rid of. And if someone is experiencing an imbalance the doctor will treat the root cause of this imbalance rather than simply help the patient to suppress unwanted feelings. 
“If only emotions always benefitted us! Alas they were shaped to benefit our genes.” 
Understanding the reasons for anxiety and panic attacks can be helpful in treating them. 
Anxiety can appear in many different forms. It can creep up on you during your morning commute as you question whether or not you closed the refrigerator door. Or you may succumb to panic attacks a
11/6/2019 11:39:49 AM
Good Reasons for Bad Feelings
Part of 8/28

t seemingly random moments during the day.  
These days around 30 percent of people worldwide will face some form of diagnosable anxiety. So let’s take a closer look at how anxiety can be useful despite being hard to cope with. 
Our feelings of anxiety have persisted through generations of natural selection because they allow us to recognize and respond to dangerous situations when they occur and to avoid similar situations in the future. In other words anxiety helps us survive so it’s definitely a trait to hang on to. 
What’s less obvious is why we so often feel anxious for no apparent reason. Basically anxiety acts like a fire alarm warning us when the smoke starts to appear so that we either put out the flames or escape before we’re consumed by the danger.  
And just like a fire alarm sometimes anxiety occurs when there isn’t any danger. But the occasional false alarm is a worthwhile price to pay for the benefit of having a warning system that might save your life one day. 
A seemin
11/6/2019 11:39:49 AM
Good Reasons for Bad Feelings
Part of 9/28

gly random panic attack can essentially be explained as a troubling but worthwhile false alarm. You might be watching TV or reading a book and the next moment your heart starts racing your chest tightens and you’re overtaken by a desperate desire to flee. 
As difficult as these feelings can be to cope with they’re nonetheless an important part of our internal warning systems. Fortunately having an evolutionary understanding of anxiety can help to reduce the symptoms. 
Imagine losing track of time and having to walk home after sunset. Suddenly you’re overcome with panic and feel the need to run home as fast as you can. If this was you in the days of hunters and gatherers that panic attack may have saved you from being devoured by a tiger. Was there really a tiger out there? You can’t be sure but the experience will remind you to ensure that you get home before sunset. 
Knowing that this is where our anxiety comes from can provide relief but the benefit of medication can also be understo
11/6/2019 11:39:49 AM
Good Reasons for Bad Feelings
Part of 5/28

us to sense danger and stay alive. 
Emotions help us survive and pass on our genes. 
When we feel physical or emotional pain we may go to a doctor to ease these sensations or stop feeling them altogether. But what if there are important reasons for feeling pain or even jealousy? 
Few people want to experience romantic jealousy but there’s no denying that it’s a powerful emotion. In fact between 1976 and 2005 34 percent of female murder victims in the US were killed by a romantic partner. 
And yet even jealousy has a good reason behind it. Again it comes down to reproduction and passing on our genes. Let’s say there are two heterosexual couples: in couple A the man is so easygoing that he doesn’t object to his girlfriend having casual affairs while in couple B the man burns with jealous rage at even the slightest hint of infidelity. 
The jealousy-free couple may have a happier relationship but there’s also a higher chance of the woman in the relationship becoming pregnant with anoth
11/6/2019 11:39:48 AM
Good Reasons for Bad Feelings
Part of 6/28

er man’s child. This means that the easygoing man could conceivably face nine months where he’s unable to pass on his genes. Meanwhile the jealous man in couple B may be unbearably possessive but his behavior might increase the likelihood that his genes get passed down. 
Aside from jealousy there are other unwanted emotions that have less than obvious benefits like helping us to avoid loss and potential dangers. In particular anxiety is really a warning sign that accompanies perceived threats to our well-being while sadness is how our emotions let us know that loss should be avoided. 
But even though these feelings help us recognize and hopefully avoid harmful situations they unfortunately don’t provide many answers about what to do. For example if you were to sign a contract with an ethically dubious organization anxiety may set in but it wouldn’t necessarily help you find the best resolution. 
On the other hand positive feelings like enthusiasm can guide us towards recognizing a good
11/6/2019 11:39:48 AM
Good Reasons for Bad Feelings
Part of 2/28

 there are in fact good reasons for even the most unpleasant emotional responses. Understanding these reasons can help us to feel better about ourselves. 
In these blinks you’ll find out 
why jealousy is useful for our genes; 
why sexual satisfaction isn’t an evolutionary priority; and 
why the bliss you get from drugs is more dangerous than other pleasures. 
Natural selection and our modern environments have given us great advantages and great vulnerabilities. 
Through countless generations the process of natural selection has brought us an array of advantages such as opposable thumbs and sensitive vocal cords. When paired with our evolved brains these traits allow us to create handcrafted wonders and to communicate our most profound thoughts. 
But despite the many triumphs of human evolution we are yet to develop immunity to many of the physical and mental diseases that plague us. While we’ve made certain ailments like infected wounds and polio less life-threatening than they
11/6/2019 11:39:44 AM
Good Reasons for Bad Feelings
Part of 3/28

once were we still fall victim to cancers and chronic depression. 
This is in part because our environments change with us and consistently introduce new dangers like processed foods filled with dangerous amounts of sugar salt and saturated fats. Once upon a time these ingredients were rare so our bodies had a healthy craving for them. But due to their relatively sudden abundance our bodies are ill-equipped to deal with them. And so we find ourselves facing high levels of obesity and heart disease as well as eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia. 
At any rate there’s little chance that natural selection will help us overcome such issues since health and longevity are not what natural selection is concerned with. Ultimately natural selection is all about emphasizing the traits that lead to better chances of reproduction. If you’ve ever felt the desperate desire to have sex with someone of the opposite gender regardless of any problems this may create then you’ve likely experienced
11/6/2019 11:39:44 AM
Good Reasons for Bad Feelings
Part of 4/28

this process in action. 
Natural selection also has limits and trade-offs that practically guarantee continued imperfections.  
For example humans have a relatively strong sense of sight but we certainly don’t have the kind of telescopic vision that an eagle has. Theoretically we could develop new eyes that address our imperfections but this would take thousands of generations and the process would result in our vision getting worse before it got better. 
Any evolutionary improvement in eyesight or brain power would come at a cost. If we were to gain more telescopic vision it would mean that we’d lose the peripheral and color vision we currently enjoy. Likewise if we were to develop bigger more powerful brains this would require larger heads which would increase the risk of death during childbirth. 
Of course there are certain traits that we’d like to lose such as feelings of stress and anxiety. But this would also come at a cost. As we’ll see in the next blink these bad feelings help
11/6/2019 11:39:44 AM
Good Reasons for Bad Feelings
Part of 0/28

Good Reasons for Bad Feelings (2018) bridges the gap between evolutionary biology and psychiatry by answering some pressing questions about why we feel the way we do. By focusing on our evolutionary development we can better understand where many of our most instinctual feelings moods and emotions come from and how we can better treat our disorders when they arise.
11/6/2019 11:39:43 AM
Good Reasons for Bad Feelings
Part of 1/28

What’s in it for me? Get a fresh perspective on the timeless question of why we feel the way we do. 
We’ve all heard about how humans have evolved over time to become increasingly successful at staying alive and reproducing. But have you ever wondered why our species is still coping with so many dysfunctions that getting through a typical day can feel like an epic struggle?  
If so you’re not alone. This is exactly the question that author Randolph M. Nesse sets out to answer in Good Reasons for Bad Feelings . As Nesse explains there are plenty of good reasons for all the messy emotions we have as well as the troubling dysfunctions we have around things like food sex and drugs. So what may appear to be inconsistencies with the science of evolution are actually helpful examples of both the internal systems we’ve developed over time and the ways in which these systems may be in conflict with modern life. 
Sometimes our feelings may seem to hold us back from living fruitful lives but
11/6/2019 11:39:43 AM
Part of 22/23

ake what was once soulless truly joyful. 
Final summary 
The key message in these blinks: 
Even the most ordinary things can bring joy to our lives. We just have to let them. From the colors you choose to paint your walls to urban buildings that fill you with awe there are endless opportunities to recognize and celebrate the beauty and joy in everyday life. The benefits joy brings cannot be denied and once you recognize its place in your life you too can embrace joy and design your world around it. 
Actionable advice: 
Keep a Joy Journal. 
As you go about your daily life keep a journal to hand. Whenever you notice feelings of happiness within you or something that makes you smile or exclaim “Wow! ” make a note of it. Try to track where these feelings tend to come up most often for you in what settings and with whom. Over time your Joy Journal will give you a clear picture of your aesthetic preferences and the types of experiences that elicit the most joy. Armed with these facts you
11/5/2019 11:40:45 AM
Part of 23/23

’ll know just how and when you can introduce more of that joy into your life.  
Got feedback? 
We’d sure love to hear what you think about our content! Just drop an email to [email protected] with the title of this book as the subject line and share your thoughts! 
What to read next: The Architecture of Happiness by Alain de Botton 
Ingrid Fetell Lee’s hymn to joy has taught you how to look around and elicit joy from thoughtfully-designed spaces and vibrant colors. But appreciating the power of architecture and design can provide even greater benefits. 
The Architecture of Happiness explains how architecture can bring out specific aspects of our personalities  resurface long-forgotten memories and even inspire us to improve ourselves as people. After these blinks you’ll never look at a building the same way again. 
11/5/2019 11:40:45 AM
Part of 20/23

r working? 
In fact celebrations aren’t a uniquely human phenomenon; they actually appear to be grounded in evolution. That’s what Dutch primatologist Frans de Waal observed in zoo-dwelling chimpanzees between 1975 and 1981. When he brought them rare treats such as fresh blackberry branches the chimpanzees gathered together in celebration. They kissed and hugged like crazy before all sitting down to eat the feast together. 
So why do we celebrate? 
The psychologist S.L. Gable showed in studies in 2004 and 2012 that celebrations strengthen internal community bonds. People who have celebrated together are more likely to assist each other. Equally communal celebration also heightens participants’ joy levels. 
There are many reasons to celebrate then and if done right appropriately designed spaces can help with that. 
For instance in 2008 architect David Rockwell came up with a unique solution when he was asked to redesign the venue for the Academy Awards in Los Angeles. 
By that time in t
11/5/2019 11:40:44 AM

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