Wired to compete

Homo sapiens have been on earth for about 200,000 years. For 199,950 (99.9%) of those years, most of the human population wasn’t assured easy access to food. We’ve been hard-wired to compete for survival. That instinct to compete translates into everything else we do.

But, you know what? We don’t need to compete any more. A large proportion of us don’t need to fight everyone else for food and survival. We don’t really need to compete for any of the basic needs on Maslow’s hierarchy. Instead, the questions we have in front of us are –
– How can we make sure the rest of the human population have the basics in place – food, shelter, access to clean water, education, etc.?
– How can we be happy?

The second question is the tough one. Our instinct to compete combined with the many opportunities out there directs our focus to “the chase.” “The chase” is a metaphor for whatever is sought after in societal terms. It is easy to spend our time in “the chase” because it is extrinsic. As long as our struggles are extrinsic, we can focus on appeasing our insecurities and circumvent any questions around happiness.

But, that question is going to keep coming back. If it isn’t clear yet, there’s enough out there for us. We just have to be willing to get to know ourselves, understand what we really want, and keep our eyes open for opportunities. This isn’t about what’s out there. It is about what’s in here. We need less competition, less insecurities, and less frantic activity. Instead, we need more calm, more confidence, and more wisdom.

The challenge is that all of this goes against our wiring. Perhaps that is the biggest challenge that awaits our generation.