Human evolution is perhaps one of the most fascinating unsolved mysteries there is. While it’s a scientific fact that we did not evolve from Neanderthal but coexisted with them, something seismic and unexplainable occurred in our evolution somewhere between 250,000 – 300,000 years ago.
As animals and species evolved, their brain mass enlarged at the same ratio as their lungs, liver, stomach, and the rest of their physical structure. Most mammals reached the height of their evolution in brain complexity and mass around 250,000 years ago. Early humans should have developed and plateaued at the same rate as other animals during the period, yet something extraordinary happened; the human neocortex, the part of the brain responsible for higher functioning such as sensory perception, motor skills, learning, reasoning, awareness, creativity, and conscious thought, underwent an enormous leap in overall mass and complexity within a short amount of time.
This sudden acceleration in the volume and density of brain mass appears to have occurred spontaneously and unexplainably, as opposed to the normal, linear course of evolution. What caused this explosive brain development, which gave us a neocortex so much larger and denser than that of any other species? Why did the brain expand to such a great degree, while the size of the head, both generally and in relation to the growth of the rest of the body, not keep pace?
The overall volume of the human skull did enlarge to some degree but not proportionally, the way animal evolution would predict. Scientists believe that if the human head had grown at the same rate of increase as the brain, the female pelvis could not have accommodated an infant’s enlarged head circumference during birth.
Even today, the human birthing process remains risky and difficult due to fetal head size. Back then, an increase in fetal head size without an increase in pelvic size would have accelerated infant and maternal mortality, and humans would have been eliminated as a species. One possible solution that Mother Nature rejected was merely to increase the size of the female pelvis to allow a larger fetal head circumference. We can only imagine what shape females would have evolved into had there been this increase in the size of the head. With such an increase in pelvic capacity, this probably would have forced early female humans back on four legs.
Nature’s solution to the need for a larger brain without a corresponding increase in skull size was simple and elegant. The brain folded in on itself so that about 98 percent of the neocortex is hidden within the folds. Just as a Japanese fan when folded hides its floral patterns beneath the surface, the new, enfolded brain hides most of its gray matter and material. This design, which greatly resembles a walnut, is an efficient way to pack more material into a smaller space.
The brain’s folding in on itself was an adaptation that gave early humans crucial advantages over other species in their environment. By increasing the potential for early humans to grow in intelligence and in their ability to learn—without compromising the body in other ways—brain folding gave us an evolutionary edge that improved our species’ chances for survival. Brain folding and the evolution of the new brain also gave humankind a potential for mental growth that we have barely tapped, even today.
Present-day humans still have almost the same proportional brain mass as we did 250,000 to 300,000 years ago. Once we became a new species of humans with an enlarged new brain, we were no longer limited to traveling the long, linear evolutionary road that the rest of the planet’s creatures had to follow. Clearly, however, our species as a whole is not using the full capacity of the new brain.
Perhaps we haven’t been told the whole story of our evolution or we just haven’t uncovered it yet, but Mother Nature has been so methodical with every other species in the story of evolution that one can’t help but wonder. What do you think caused this giant leap in evolution? We just might have to use that extra 20% of our brain capacity to figure it out.
Photo by LuciaJoy
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At the core of our desires is living a life of purpose and meaning.
At the core of a life of purpose and meaning is being of service to others.
At the core of being of service to others is finding peace and happiness.
At the core of finding peace and happiness, we discover who we are.
And to do that, we must get over a little irony, that most of us hardly know – much less, know well – the single person we have spent every second of our existence with, our own selves.
Think you’re the exception? Let me ask you then: how well do you know yourself?
We are not talking about taking a personality test or learning about your family history. Neither are we talking about your favorite colors, your best childhood friend or your high school prom experience (thank goodness about the last one ;)).
We are talking about something much greater and of higher consequence. We are talking about who you are at your core, what most matters to you, what makes you come alive, what feeds your soul and what drains your spirit, and how to know the difference so you choose well as you move forward in life.
If you don’t know yourself all that well, you may still live a life in alignment with who you are but only by accident or some sheer stroke of luck.
And that, my darling, is too big a risk to take, so shall we eliminate the risk altogether?
Make it a certainty that you live in alignment with who you are not by accident or luck, but rather on purpose, by intention, by design.
How? By getting to know yourself really really well. One way to do that is to learn your values, passions and goals. Another is to ask the right questions.
Reminder: You can still grab The Positive Affirmations for Life program with more than 4 hours of audio affirmations for 7 life situations that impact your happiness and success the most.
How to Get to Know Yourself: 29 Questions to Self-Discovery
Here are just 29 questions that open the door to having a real conversation with yourself. I want to ask you to answer these questions honestly for yourself.
When you are ready to do this, copy these questions into a text document, quiet all outside distractions, take a few deep relaxing breaths, make a great cuppa tea, clear your mind of noise and clutter and dive in.
Know that there are no right or wrong answers. There is only you uncovering the process of building a closer relationship with the person within.
- What activity in your life lights you up with joy?
- What is something you always love doing, even when you are tired or rushed? Why?
- If a relationship or job makes you unhappy, do you choose to stay or leave?
- What do you fear about leaving a bad job or a bad relationship?
- What do you believe is possible for you?
- What have you done in your life that you are most proud of?
- What is the thing that you are second most proud of?
- What kind of legacy do you want to leave behind?
- How does your being here in the universe change humanity for the better?
- If you could have one single wish granted, what would it be?
- How comfortable are you with your own mortality?
- What is your highest core value?
- To your best knowledge, how do other people perceive you?
- How would you like others to perceive you?
- How confident are you in your abilities to make decisions for yourself?
- What is your biggest self-limiting belief?
- Who is the most important person in your life?
- Who is your greatest role model?
- Who is a person that you don’t like yet you spend time with?
- What is something that is true for you no matter what?
- What is your moral compass in making difficult decisions?
- What is one failure that you have turned into your greatest lesson?
- What role does gratitude play in your life?
- How do you feel about your parents?
- How is your relationship with money?
- How do you feel about growing old someday?
- What role has formal education played in your life and how do you feel about it?
- Do you believe your destiny is pre-determined or in your hands to shape however you wish?
- What do you believe is the meaning of your life?
What If You Don’t Like the Questions Above?
I know. These questions are not meant to be easy or comfortable, but they are important to ask and to know. As you ask yourself questions, the process of self-inquiry begins, and at first, it is uncomfortable and unfamiliar – especially if you have never done it – yet in time, it becomes easier. Even fun.
Because here’s what you may not know. Or be afraid to believe.
You are a unique child of this world. You are brilliant, smart and wise. You are deep and fascinating. You are gifted and talented. You are beyond capable to do what you dream. You are loved, loving and lovable.
You are not too old or too fat or too poor. You are not too slow or too boring. You are simply none of the terrible things you tell yourself. You’re quite the opposite.
You are more than enough.
So while it’s up to you to decide if this self-discovery process is worthwhile, I would say trust me on this. Getting to know yourself IS worthwhile. Just do it!
Get Confident in 21 Easy Steps
The post Get To Know Yourself: 29 Questions to Discover the Real You appeared first on Prolific Living.
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by Ed and Deb Shapiro: The story goes that, at the time of the Buddha, a group of monks wanted to do a quiet retreat away from the crowds of followers…
so the Buddha sent them to a glade in the forest where he said they would be undisturbed. The monks found their way there and settled down to meditate. But what they didn’t know was that a gang of tree spirits inhabited the glade and they were really upset that the monks had come. And when tree spirits get upset they can be extremely scary, ugly, very smelly, and unbelievably noisy, ferociously shrieking all over the place. They did everything they could to spook the hermits and make them leave.
And it worked. The monks couldn’t possibly meditate with so many disturbances, so they went back to the Buddha and begged him to let them go somewhere else. But the Buddha said no; instead, he taught them a meditation practice of loving kindness, or metta in Sanskrit, which develops loving kindness towards everyone, including yourself and your enemies. And then he sent the monks back to the forest. His famous words were, Loving kindness is the only protection you will need.
Thinking the Buddha must be mad, the monks reluctantly went back to the glade, sat down and began practicing the Loving Kindness meditation. And the tree spirits, who at first were not at all pleased to see them returning, no longer had any affect on them. For all their antics, the monks just kept sitting there and beaming out loving kindness. Eventually the tree spirits were won over by the waves of love and compassion emanating from these robed ones and, far from trying to chasing them away, the same nasties that had been so ferocious now became disciples.
The question is, who are the tree spirits? Answer: they are everything that goes on in our minds—all the doubts, insecurities, fears, anger, negative thoughts— that constantly undermine our balance and positivity. And the point the Buddha was making is that loving kindness has the capacity to overcome all manner of inner monsters and ghouls and lead us to a true heart opening.
We know this sounds so easy: just be kind and loving, how great, what a cool idea. But in practice it’s definitely not always so easy, such as when someone says or does something that is personally critical or hurtful. Can metta still flow when the ego is upset? By focusing on loving kindness as a way of living, it shows us all those places that are bound in selfishness; it brings us up against our limitations. Where is our capacity to step into greater kindness?
Metta is the act of extending our love, kindness and friendship equally towards all beings, proving that love is more powerful than any negative force. Rather than trying to deal with negativity, we cultivate the opposite; seeing and knowing pain, we bring loving kindness. Then amazing change is possible.
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