Human Nature, The Vagus Nerve, and Opportunity

As humankind continues to advance, a deep rooted shift in mindset has occurred. Practically all information is readily available via the internet. People hold higher value in "things" than ever before, and certain values have been lost along the way. Capitalistic tendencies in America are ingrained in our minds from the beginning. In essence,  we are told that you gotta go to college, so you can get a good job to make money to buy stuff, and that stuff will make you happy. 

I think that all of us know that material goods can provide us with temporary amounts of joy  and entertainment but it doesn't last. Owning the "coolest" car , pair of jeans, vacation homes , etc. are all just structured status symbols invented by the people who directly benefit from the purchase of these items. Is this insatiable desire to want more stuff human nature? I say no. Humans are obviously quite unique among the animal kingdom. Unlike other animals, we lack most instinct from birth. We rely on other humans to teach us how to behave and act, what's okay and what isn't. This is called enculturation. However traces of what most likely used to be more apparent when humans were more instinctual as opposed to intelligent, are still subtly in our lives. 

Have you ever been told a heart felt story that left you with the chills or the "heebee jeebees"? This is the Vagus nerve firing. More identifiers that it has been activated is kind of a choked up, welling feeling in the throat. I'm pretty sure you know what i'm talking about. The point is, that this overwhelming feeling is involuntary and happens when we as humans see or partake in acts of compassion to other human beings. The stimulation of the Vagus nerve triggers production of oxytocin. Oxytocin is a very powerful hormone that is also released every time we hug or kiss someone, cradling a baby or young child just to name a few. This is how our body "rewards" us for doing what we are hardwired to do, which is be there for one another. Higher oxytocin levels are linked to better stress management, and other physical and psychological benefits. I can say I've never got that feeling from the purchase of any material good, and it's because that is not what we were meant to do. We are meant to have each others backs and cooperate, This is where opportunity comes into play. 

The shift that we need to make is utilize the opportunity to provide others with just that, opportunity. For people like those in Guatemala that have little to no clean water access, they are not focused on charity for others, but mere survival. However if they are given access to this essential need to live, their whole world around them improves dramatically. They are able to work more and provide more comfort to their families. Kids become able to stay in school with good health and as a result receive better education. That is when a fundamental change occurs. This relatively simple improvement to their lives, by people like you and me, is how the cycle of Vagus nerve stimulation and oxytocin creation begins. This is the shift in mindset that has the immense power to make a very big , very real change in our world. I have personally witnessed what a vast impact clean water can have on a community, and am confident that this is a cause worth fighting for.

 If we come together in cooperation we have the power to not only save hundreds and even thousands of people , but also to empower them to live life with a zest like we have here. Give someone the chance to really live rather than to merely survive. This is how you achieve true happiness.

 If we all do a little , we will change a lot. 

Live Vividly,

D.C.

 

September 23, 2014 by Dylan Carlson
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KC

KC said:

Thought provoking. Good blog Dyl!

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