Appropriateness Determines Success

Question Gus was asked on Quora today: Is ‘getting bored’ a survival instinct?

His reply: I can understand how you could have a question about this. On the face of it, it’s difficult to see how boredom could have evolved as a pro-survival emotion or attitude.

The thing to appreciate, though, is that no single attitude or emotion is useful or helpful in all situations. There is no universally “right” or positive attitude.

Even the human attitudes that are most commonly welcomed—like friendliness, kindness, confidence, courage, love, etc—can get you into a lot of trouble when they are instinctively triggered in the wrong circumstances.

Continuing to be friendly to people who are actively trying to do you harm is simply self-destructive. Being kind to those who are harming others is socially destructive. Confidently proceeding on a course of action when you haven’t first determined the risks could wind you up in a wheelchair—or with a Darwin award. Continuing to love someone who is too self-absorbed to love you back in the same way can ruin your life. And so on.

Boredom results when a person is reacting with a passive attitude to circumstances that really call for a more responsive or proactive attitude. For instance, when your intuition is just to observe what’s going on, but there is nothing much going on, then you will end up feeling bored.

However, if you were in the middle of a riot, the instinct to just passively observe what’s going on—rather than get swept up in the hysteria of the moment—would be a very pro-survival reaction. It would allow you to see dangers coming and so avoid them.

The survival value of any human emotion or attitude lies in its appropriateness to current circumstances. Psychologists call this aspect of mental operation: relevance.

The human brain has evolved to produce relevant instinctive reactions, but it is certainly not perfect at this. All human reactions are potentially relevant responses in various types of scenarios, however the more violent reactions are less likely to be useful in a modern civilized setting.

Whenever you feel disappointed in a situation, or whatever you are trying to do continues to feel difficult: this happens because your intuition is continuing to urge you to react to the situation you are facing in a way that is not sufficiently relevant to circumstances.

In which case, you have to find a better way to look at what is going on, one that is more relevant and thus more likely to lead you to bring about a positive outcome. In most cases involving persisting boredom, this means giving yourself more permission to a) focus on your own desires instead of going along with what you might think is the “right thing”, or b) lighten up, forget about problem-solving and see what would give you pleasure in the current situation—and “pro-act” accordingly.

Instinx Performance Coaching progressively and permanently improves the relevance of your instinctive reactions—thus transforming your ability to achieve what you want.

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Posted April 21, 2019 at 1:46 am by Gus Griffin · Permalink
In: Misc