By thinking like our ancestors we can actually reduce stress and improve memory!
Today’s modern world is filled with technological advantages. We have machines to do our cleaning for us, machines to move us around by car or plane so we don’t need to walk. We have communication devices in our pockets and information at our fingertips.
People assume that iPhones, laptops and social media are evidence of progress but researchers believe these advances can actually be detrimental to memory (source.)
Another memory-hindering part of the modern world: stress! Although our ancestors had a much more physically demanding life (hunting for food, defending their space, fighting off animals, etc.) researchers believe that pressures of the modern age are actually more taxing on the brain.
The aboriginals of northern Australia have an interesting way to beat stress that we can use today. It stems from their belief that humans have THREE brains. The 1st is the Logical Brain which includes intelligence, cognitive perception, and meaning making. This is what we normally imagine when we think of the brain. The 2nd is the Spiritual Brain. This includes your emotions, and rational affect. It is the voice in your head that hints at your connection with the divine. The 3rd is the Instinctual Brain. Believed to be located in the stomach, the instinctual brain refers to our gut feelings. It is what controls the fight or flight mode, and impulses.
One might think it is best to beat a stressful situation with logic but according to the Aboriginals, the antidote for modern stressful thinking is to embrace the instinctual brain. Ever hear the expression “go with your gut” ? That phrase holds more truth than one might think. The human gut produces benzodiazepine, a drug that relieves anxiety. (source)
The aboriginals also believed people should not spend all of their time in the logical brain. Too much time in the logical brain will make a person dream of better places and times instead of being in the moment. This will make you lose sleep and become depressed.
(It is amazing when an ancient culture is able to so accurately predict our modern world. When we can’t seem to see the problems right in front of us.)
This ancient “3 Brains” belief is somewhat of a precursor to the brain research that is being done today. Current research also examines the possibility of 3 brains; your neocortex, limbic, and reptilian brains (also known as “head,” “heart” and “gut.” )
Moral of the Story
While “going with your gut” may not be appropriate in all situations, it is important to get out of your logical brain at least once a day. Put down your iPhone, stop thinking so much, and pay more attention to the world around you. Close your eyes and open up the rest of your senses. Stop relying on google maps for navigation and find your own way.
Do this everyday: Focus on the here and now. Meditate. If you know how to relax in your down time when your logical brain is not needed then you will have more energy for thinking when it is needed. Less stress equals smarter and better decisions. Less reliance on technology equals being in the moment and using your instincts.
So remember, to go with your gut and think like a caveman today.