It’s hard to be human because …

We are paradoxical creatures who long to be happy while creating our own suffering.

  • We worry about things we have no control over.
  • We whine about not being understood while casting a critical eye on others.
  • We self-righteously and stubbornly defend our entrenched opinions despite ambiguous, even contradictory evidence.
  • We aspire to goals we lack the discipline to achieve.
  • We struggle to adapt to a complex world that we ourselves created.

Our thinking and feeling are often poorly matched to the reality of human life today.

  • We oversimplify complex challenges.
  • We’re overconfident in our oversimplified judgments.
  • We overreact to small, unimportant stuff.
  • We are torn by competing desires within ourselves.
  • We search for meaning in the wrong places.

We haven’t yet mastered our neuron-packed brains whose design features can morph into design flaws.

  • The cognitive design features of our brains have always served our survival. But they evolved in a world that is different than today’s.
  • So the features become flaws in a need of a fix.

But there are fixes that make it easier …
fixes that offer complexity of thinking to match the complexity in our lives.

  • Cognitive scientists and philosophers have come up with powerful strategies to fix each of our cognitive design flaws.
  • These fixes all depend on reducing our reliance on the default ways of thinking and reacting that make being human hard. How?
  • The underlying mechanism that enables all of the strategic fixes goes by many names (e.g., metacognition, mindfulness); I call it “The Space Between.”
  • The Space Between represents the ultimate huma paradox: only by escaping ourselves can we make it easier to be human.

 

Go to the Hard To Be Human book details page.