The Stoic Ape

Written by Rintu S. Joseph

The Homo Sapien is an animal. We as members of this group often forget this in our arrogance, which is sourced by our superiority complex. We may be capable of writing and creating and operating complex devices that allow us to set foot on the moon, or see something on the opposite side of the earth with a piece of metal and glass in the palm of our hand; but what allows us to do these things in the first place? There is no magical spark within that allows us to do these things, just complex synaptic patterns that we have inherited because we were born as a member of this species homo sapien. This is a terrifying revelation for most of us and has been on an existential scale ever since Charles Darwin published his “Origin of the Species”. But I wish to make the case that this insight into the nature of our being is actually a liberating one.

When we experience emotions and swing between moods in our lives, it is comforting to pause for a second and to recognize that the malevolent forces in our psyche are not ethereal or caused by some great unknown. Whenever we feel pain, sorrow, hate, anger, and anguish, we must realize that these subjective experiences are merely the results of the way our mammalian instincts process the chunk of hundred billion neurons in our head. We are told that pain, sorrow, hate, and anger are bad and must be avoided. It may be the case that these emotions are not pleasant, but in moderation they can help make us grow as a person, and have also been essential to the survival and reproduction of our ancestors, the latter of which is what we as a species are designed to do. Here again we come across a statement that at first petrifies us: that we are insignificant mammals floating on an insignificant rock in an uncaring universe with countless galaxies. This however need not be a cause for further sorrow but rather acceptance and celebration.

Accepting that we are no different from other creatures inhabiting the Earth and are subject to emotional impulses due to our evolutionary heritage and not some mysterious force allows us to come to terms with the fact that we are not bad people for having negative thoughts but rather unfortunate primates who need care and help to become healthy and happy. We can care for and help ourselves when experiencing dark and depressing thoughts by having an inner dialogue with our wounded selves. Tell yourself that these feelings are mutable, fleeting, impermanent, and the result of biochemical processes which can further be broken down into operations down at the molecular level functioning according to the laws of physics, which have no desire to harm or punish you for your actions. Tell yourself that you are just one member of this specific kind of ape living in a few frames in the grand authorless story of the cosmos. Tell yourself that the hurt you feel right now doesn’t have to keep you miserable forever. We can rise above it. With willpower and faith in ourselves, we can lift ourselves to push for better circumstances that don’t bring us mental calamity.

Writer’s Profile:

Rintu has always been interested in the big questions about life, about meaning, existence, and all things relating to philosophy and science.
He is doing his bachelor’s in philosophy and has wanted to inspire people to think about themselves and understand their feelings and mind. In his spare time, he enjoys hanging out with his cat or playing video games.

WOW – Mind & Behavioural Clinic

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