#381 Why Your Brain Wants You To Be Anxious, Lazy & Fat (And What You Can Do About It) with Dr Anders Hansen

I think it’s fair to say that human beings have got it pretty good. Compared to most of our evolutionary history we have never been richer, safer, or lived longer lives. Yet, despite that, more of us are struggling with our health than ever before. What’s going on? This is the question that my guest today has spent years trying to answer.


Dr Anders Hansen is a Swedish psychiatrist, a globally renowned speaker with his own TV series exploring the human brain and he is also the author of multiple bestselling books, including his latest two The Happiness Cure and The Attention Fix.


He believes we can start to understand the struggles of modern life by looking to the brain, where our emotions are created. The brain did not evolve for intelligence, creativity or even happiness. Its sole purpose is to help us survive and reproduce – to make it to tomorrow, alive. We have inherited the evolutionary defence mechanisms that kept our ancestors hyper alert, fearful, and able to evade danger.


The trouble is that modern life has evolved at a pace our genes and brains have been unable to match. So today, these incredible survival skills that once helped us, now show up as unwanted feelings like chronic anxiety, distractibility, an urge to overeat, under exercise and even gamble. We often see these as mental health failings – something broken that needs to be fixed, says Anders. But when you look at them through the lens of evolutionary psychology, these behaviours all start to make perfect sense.


We no longer live on the Savanna: we live in a world of abundance and super-stimulation – and, if we want to thrive, we need to work against our brains’ natural instincts.


Easier said than done? Perhaps, but this conversation contains some excellent practical advice to get you started.


Anders is someone who really wants all of us to learn how exactly our brains are wired -  so we can more easily understand ourselves and our daily behaviours. He is passionate, knowledgeable and a brilliant communicator. I thoroughly enjoyed my conversation with him, I hope you enjoy listening.

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Show notes https://drchatterjee.com/381

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