Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Man and Woman


Researchers have generally assumed that people have  sex for one or more of three reasons: to have children, to experience sexual pleasure, and to cement relationships. Turns out there are more than that--234 more.Psychologists Cindy Meston and David Buss, of the University of Texas, at Austin, surveyed 442 people, aged 17 to 52, asking just one question: "List all the reasons why you or those you know have engaged in sexual intercourse."The myth is that men and women are emotionally very different. An old saying illustrates this: Women have sex to become intimate. Men become intimate to have sex. There's some truth to this. But surprisingly, in the Meston-Buss survey, eight of the top ten reasons why men and women have sex and 20 of the top 25 are remarkably similar:. I shall not drop 
the list here,,but the talk continues....

The Sex

First of all, we still do. We just have more a lot more hangups about it. And it should surprise no one that the primary reason we do it is not procreation. We do it because it feels good physically and emotionally. More specifically, it allows us to share something super-intimate with another human being. Most of the time we are definitely, expressly not trying to make a child.Out of all your sexual experiences, how often were you doing it simply because you wanted to make a baby? The vast majority of people use birth control. We try to minimize baby-making but we’re still highly interested in sex, and so for humans sex obviously serves another extremely compelling purpose.That purpose is to bring us closer, to cement social bonds. Being big-brained and relatively weak-bodied — an 80-pound baboon can tear a 200-pound man to shreds — what kept humans alive for hundreds of thousands of years was that our interpersonal bonds were so tight.
What other species grieves so helplessly for so long when they lose a relative or companion? What other species requires a decade or two of constant attention in order to raise a child to be a healthy, independent individual? What other creature can lose track of itself completely by gazing into in the eyes of a close companion?We bond intensely, perhaps like no other creature ever has. And sex, especially face-to-face, can create great peaks of intimate bonding. We lose our pretensions. In a hyper-intimate way we bare ourselves to another, our outer and inner selves at the same time.

Before “mine” and “yours”

Think about what it would be like to live your whole life in a social group of about a hundred people. You’d get to know everyone rather quickly, and would develop relationships with them over decades. Dissenters and troublemakers would be reformed quickly or shunned — jealous and possessive types would be too great a liability for the whole group.
Human beings have never been able to survive on their own. Even today the greatest human fear is being ostracized or abandoned, because for hundreds of thousands of years, it meant death. In the civilized world, where there’s always another job, always another circle of friends out there, rejection doesn’t mean death, but emotionally it remains a devastating experience for most of us.
Most notably, there would be no notion of private property, of “mine” versus “yours.” This can be observed in many of today’s remaining hunter-gatherer tribes, where hiding or hoarding anything is viewed as a glaring offense to the whole community.

Possessiveness would not be tolerated or even understood, and therefore the idea of sexual exclusivity would be just as absurd and offensive to the others as hoarding food. Clearly it is normal and healthy for human beings to be attracted to multiple people, and our ancestors wouldn’t have found many reasons to restrict their intimate activities to one mate.Females each mating with multiple males means that no male could quite be sure which child was his genetically. There were no paternity tests, and everyone would be so closely related that there wouldn’t be too many giveaways in the child’s features, such as distinct hair color or eye color.Think about what that means for a moment: it’s likely that for most of human existence, it was not normal for a man to know which kids were his.For the survival of the group, this was a good thing. First of all, it meant that males wouldn’t kill off the children sired by other males (as some species do). But most importantly, it meant that every adult felt a responsibility to care for every child in the group. The females would breastfeed the children of other women, and no man would have any reason to view one child as “his” and another as “not his.” All children were vulnerable, all were in need of food and protection and love, and the survival of the group depended on the survival of children, no matter who fathered them. Paternal uncertainty, as biologists call it, kept hunter-gatherer groups well-bonded and more liable to survive than they would be if they were fragmented into nuclear families who had clear preferences about who ought to get most of the help.So the result of a sexual culture that modern people might call “promiscuous” was that the whole group was one giant family, with a conspicuous lack of alienation, possessiveness and competition, compared to how we interact with each other today.

Why everything changed

Before our eyes, social norms are changing. Most people don’t gasp and whisper when they see interracial couples anymore. The US president has officially endorsed gay marriage. Hotels no longer insist that you be married to rent a hotel room with a member of the opposite sex. Normal changes, and it can change fast.
Monogamy is still accepted by most to be the “way things are” among human beings, as a general rule. Certainly it’s prescribed non-negotiably in the Bible and other religious texts. But human relationships reach back far longer than that.About ten thousand years ago, people figured out how to stay put. Instead of roaming the country, foraging for food, they began to grow it themselves, in the same place year after year. This had several immediate, world-changing effects.For the first time, people could stay in one place. Food could be stored and accumulated. Settlements became permanent. The population boomed, and people began to live closer together. Currencies were implemented. Social institutions formed: churches, laws, militaries.For the first time, wealth could be hoarded. One person could amass many times the resources of another. There had never been a way for one person to become vastly more powerful than other person before, because nomad groups could only carry what they needed, and would seek newer pastures when resources dwindled. Excess was pointless.But now, everyone saw that there was no limit to accumulation, and the more they accumulated, the more secure they were. So nobody ever felt like they quite had enough — it was always desirable to have more. Combine this to the skyrocketing population, and fierce competition for resources became the new norm.
This had to have completely changed the social dynamics between human beings, on all scales. Human existence quickly shifted from an environment of abundance to an environment of scarcity. Great imbalances of power and privilege began, whereas they were impossible before, and they have continued to widen for the last ten thousand years

What does this have to do with sex?
The greatest change agriculture made was that particular people became tied to particular areas of land. The notion of ownership had become became crucial for the first time. If an individual wanted to survive, rather than contribute to a cohesive, self-contained group, he had to secure the right to work a particular area of land, probably in spite of the competing interests of others. He had to participate as a small part of a large, impersonal economy. His life depended on his ability to do that.Much like today, when a landowner died others wanted the land, and the issue of who had legal claim to it had to be settled. The most intuitive arrangement was for a landowner’s offspring to inherit it.So for the first time ever, it became absolutely necessary for a man to know that his children were his. In the age before birth control and paternity tests, there was only one way for a man to be certain:He had to make 100 percent sure that his woman never, ever had sex with anyone else.And so men came to control land by controlling women’s sexuality, and the new “normal” sculpted by this economic trend is still the primary model for us today: sexual monogamy. To secure themselves economically, men demanded virgins and had zero tolerance for any hint of non-monogamy. Fidelity was enforced by vicious social contracts including religious dictates and cultural beliefs, for which women were humiliated, stoned or worse for even expressing the desire to bed with another man.This was the beginning of a culture of sexual inequality and repression that we are still, sadly, used to. Even in progressive societies, women who want to have many sexual partners are often regarded as sluts, by both sexes. Men don’t face the same scrutiny.For centuries it was debated — among scholar-class men, of course — whether women derived any pleasure from sex at all. The academic consensus was that sex was a drive that pertained only to males, and was merely accomodated by married females so that they could have the only thing the women truly desired: children.So monogamy appears to be a cultural phenomenon that has its origins in economics of all places. There isn’t necessarily anything instrinsically wrong with it, but looking at the divorce rates one can’t help but wonder whether it’s a round hole, while humans — biologically at least — carry square pegs.It’s well known that in North America, most marriages end in divorce rather than death, and most marriages include sexual infidelity. Sexless marriages are common, if not commonly talked about.We’re still recovering from long-standing, asinine cultural pressures that tell us we can’t have too many sexual partners, can’t be gay, can’t be single parents, can’t have group sex without becoming a weirdo or a hippie, can’t have two partners at once without being a cheat, and can’t decide not to have children without being a self-absorbed hedonist.Thankfully Kinsey’s famous studies, released following the war, revealed to the world what it both feared and knew all along: that everybody was doing everything the whole time, they just hid it from view. People were having oral sex, anal sex, extramarital sex, group sex, sex with machinery, sex with their own hands and fingers, gay sex, dress-up sex, S&M sex, and sometimes, no sex at all.The variety and volume of sexual tastes and practices were enormous in reality, but publicly everyone presented the same front: modest, God-fearing monogamous relationships.

Where normal comes from

The day we’re born, each of us opens our eyes and begins to build a world that seems “normal” to us. It is built from scratch, experience by experience, and what we build depends on the die roll of where we’re born and when. So what we come to regard as “the way things are” may only be the way things have been for a few centuries, or even a few decades, and only in our own locale.We have a tendency to project our own “normal” backwards and forwards across time and across millions of other people’s lives, making a lot of people wrong in the process. The irony is that we refer to these relatively new practices and social rules — of which monogamy is only one — as “traditions,” and that any deviation from them is a betrayal of what’s natural. Ninety-nine percent of human existence occured before the “traditional” ways even began.I know some people reading this have no idea where I’m going with this or why I’m picking on monogamy, but I know a lot of people out there are nodding their heads. There might be a very good reason why it’s been so damn hard to make things work the “traditional” way. What’s traditional in your culture might clash very strongly with your biological and emotional makeup.I’ve been in relationships where I was expected never to audibly acknowledge that I find other women attractive. It was somehow wrong, offensive to my partner, to disclose this truth. Yet it’s the most basic and obvious truth of human sexuality — that we all feel desires for more than one person throughout our lives. Still, somehow, the normal perspective is that the right thing to do is to hide it from the person we are supposed to love most.Think of how many people have suffered the most miserable ache in the heart, just because they did not accept that basic reality. If that’s normal, you may find it’s a good reason not to be normal.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Stolen and Shared Self Awareness Post

"The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways." -Proverbs 14:8 ''thine own self be true.”
It's one of Shakespeare' most famous quotes, and it seems to be the first in a long line of self-help mantras to come in the following centuries.And because of the stigma of self-indulgence and naiveté of the self-help industry, many of us have rejected the concept of knowing more about who we are and what we do. But there is a vast difference between self-help and self-knowledge. As Proverbs 14:8 has it, "the wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways, but the folly of fools is deception."More and more, I’ve discovered how helpful understanding myself is in the process of thriving in life and getting along with others.
Here are 8 essential things you should know about yourself:

Know Who You Serve

Bob Dylan—sort of the Shakespeare of 1960s New York City—said it best: "You gotta serve somebody." If you don't think you're serving someone, that might mean you're serving yourself—which is pretty telling. Maybe you're serving your employer, your checking account or even the approval of others. Maybe you're serving others. But when you honestly ask yourself, "Who do I serve?" you should be able to answer the question instantly and honestly.

Know What You Love.

Having a broad understanding of what you love is important because it will help you understand how you see the world. Here's an example from my life: I’m a big picture person. I often dream about what’s down the road and how we get there. Knowing that about myself gives me the opportunity to put myself in situations in which I get to do that more and avoid situations that are all about details.But not only is it important to know what you love from a broad perspective, know what you love specifically as well. Chocolate, time with people, time alone, freckles, winter, the beach.Knowing what you love helps you make decisions more intentionally and with purpose.

Know What Gets You Riled Up.

Coming to an awareness of the things that make you tense allows you to control your emotions rather than letting your emotions control you.
I was recently in a situation with a person I found to be quite difficult. I felt tense. My heart rate was rising. My palms were getting sweaty. Suddenly, I became aware of all these things happening inside me subconsciously. I asked myself, “Why am I feeling this way?”It’s important for us to know how we feel, but it’s more important to know why we feel the way we do.Knowing the root of your angst helps you prevent and alleviate it. Coming to an awareness of the things that make you tense allows you to control your emotions rather than letting your emotions control you. 

Know What Drives You.

I meet a lot of people who don’t seem to know what they want. And I suppose the same is true for me at times, as well. But, it’s important for us to ask, “What is the end goal? What am I working toward and why?”In Malcolm Gladwell’s book, Outliers, he talks about how someone becomes an expert at something once they’ve done it for 10,000 hours. At the time, I was engaged in lots of things, and the idea of that kind of time commitment threw me into a crisis. “Am I too divided to become an expert at anything? Am I neglecting everything because I’m not focusing on one thing?” But then I took a step back and realized that in all the things I was doing, there were two common root motivations: to shift paradigms and to create community.Knowing our root motivations helps us to know what opportunities to pursue and see the purpose and objective in everything we do.

Know What You’re Good At.

The easy answer to this is our obvious talents: baseball, cooking, singing, dancing. But there are things that are more hidden, and the more we come to understand our hidden talents, the more impact we’ll have on other people. These “soft” talents are things like: leadership, nurturing, encouraging, guidance, support, vision.It helps you understand not only that you’re good at basketball, for example, but how you’re uniquely able to contribute to your team. Will you help encourage the team when they’re down? Will you help paint a vision for the future and help motivate the team to move toward that vision? Are you best suited to offer support and facilitate meeting the needs of the team?Know what you’re good at and work to cultivate it.

Know What You’re Not Good At.

So many of us think we’re supposed to be good at everything. But I’ve come to realize it’s not my job to be good at everything. It’s to be good at what I’m good at and platform people to do what they’re good at.
Stepping out of what you’re not good at gives an opportunity for the right people to fill the role well.
As long as you’re trying to fill roles you’re not created to fill, it’s preventing other people from filling those roles and doing those jobs. Not only will it leave you drained, it will leave those around you frustrated. So focus on developing your strengths and let others do the same.

Know What to Give Your Time To. 

All the things above are part of the filter for this one. Knowing what you are and are not good at, knowing your root motivations and purpose, knowing what you love and what riles you up—all these things are great factors in helping determine what to give your time to.The most important factor in accomplishing any task is most often who we’re accomplishing that task alongside of. Committing to things you’re not good at or don’t care about will make you frustrated and ultimate lead to disappointing the people you were trying to please when you said “yes.”

Know Who You Want to Experience Life With.

This last thing is probably the most important. In the same way we need to know what to say “yes” and “no” to. We need to know who to say “yes” and “no” to.The most important factor in accomplishing any task is most often who we’re accomplishing that task alongside of. This isn’t to say that we’re to only spend time with people just like us. But it’s important to know that when we’re setting out on journey, we’re setting out with people we travel well with.Along the way, there will be strife and angst. In those times, we remember the commitments we made at the beginning and press on together. Don’t give up on the people around you when things get tough. Don’t sacrifice them in the name of moving down the road. When they fall, stop the journey and pick them up. When they’re injured, carry them. And when you’re the one limping, let them do the same for you.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Simplicity Versus Life

acorn in hand
It probably doesn’t occur to most people that their lives have only ever happened one moment at time. Being in more than one place at once is obviously impossible, yet most of us have difficulty fully allowing ourselves to be only in the one place where we really are: here.
We often talk about having a dozen things to do at once, when in fact we seldom do more than one thing at once, or need to. Your to-do list only gets done one moment at a time, whether your moment-to-moment experience is a frantic and complex one, or a calm and simple one.
We would do very well to simply look at the present moment, ask ourselves what it requires, then calmly do that. It’s hard to imagine an instance in life where this wouldn’t be the best thing to do. Yet life usually seems so much more complicated than that.
Any moment you experience can be broken down into three simple qualities:
1) Your immediate physical surroundings right now
2) The physical feelings in your body right now
3) What you’re thinking about right now
Your whole life is just a gradual turnover of these three aspects of experience. It seems more complicated than that because the third part (your thoughts) can create the appearance all kinds of content that isn’t actually happening. You can lose track of what’s real quite easily when you don’t notice that you’re only thinking.
You can be walking down a quiet street, with a cool breeze and a nice sunset as your backdrop, and be completely consumed by thoughts about something that happened earlier. On the way home from work, a driver in a pickup truck honked at you and gave you the finger, and you don’t think you did anything wrong.
Without deciding to, you imagine a confrontation with this person. You start to get mad about society’s entitlement issues around big vehicles and fossil fuels, and you think about how your car doesn’t use that much gas compared to a truck, but one day you want to quit the long commute altogether. But you know that to do that you’d have to move closer to work, which probably means moving into a high-rise, which you think you could get used to if it meant no more traffic jams, but your spouse would never go for it, and they probably don’t allow dogs…
This happens all the time. We get completely overcome by our thoughts, and the content of the thoughts seems nearer and more relevant than what’s actually happening — the quiet street is almost gone from your experience, even though it’s right there. Usually we solve nothing with this kind of haphazard rumination.