Beyond “Setting Limits” – Part 2 – Natural vs. Artificial Limits

by Scott Noelle

Limits are everywhere in nature. Falling objects are limited by solid ground. Sunlight on the ground is limited by trees. Populations are limited by food supplies.

The human species is exquisitely adapted to thrive in the conditions under which we evolved, which is why people in nature-based, “uncivilized” cultures are generally happier despite all the natural limits they live with.

Our ancestors invented civilization to overcome natural limits, but the strategy of trying to control nature has led to more and more artificial limits — arbitrary rules, laws, shoulds, and shalt-nots that often ignore the evolved wisdom of our adaptations.

Improve Your Groove

Today, notice when you feel limited and identify the limiting factors. You will discover that most of your limitations are artificial, not natural.

You may feel limited by time, for example. Our system of time is a relatively recent invention that often conflicts with our “biological clocks” or natural timing. It may increase productivity, but it can also reduce the quality of life.

For each artificial limit you identify, ask yourself what natural limit it has replaced. For example, the artificial limit called “bedtime” is a replacement for the natural limit called “I feel sleepy.”

The Beyond “Setting Limits” series:
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4
Originally published on 2015-01-22
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