We are built to never be satisfied.

by Tracy Ann Koch

Ilse Crawford’s book, Home Is Where The Heart Is; contains theories, ideas and beliefs on what it is that makes a house feel like home. Photography by Martyn Thompson.

You would think that we might have moved on since the Stone Age, but our instinctive survival drives still inform much of what we do. The tricky thing is that the modern world is messing with our genes. We are greedy. No, let’s correct that. We are insatiable. To put it bluntly, we were simply not designed to live in a time of plenty that cuts a little too much slack for our darker side.

Physiologically speaking, our thighs are our larder, ensuring our survival in times of famine when the thin ones go to the wall. But in the industrial world, where all we need to do to feed ourselves is open the fridge, the fact that we are designed to find food so pleasurable, so hard to resist, is a problem. This instinct to consume is what has led us to splurge in a world of fast food, cheap food, where even instant gratification takes too long. The result in the First World: an epidemic of obesity (in the U.S., nearly one in three adults is now clinically obese).

Our appetite for things is also infinite. With stores open all the time, whether online or at the shopping mall, our drive to acquisition leads us to work all hours, and some of us even to bankruptcy, which is at record levels. Hence there is a bon in the storage industry wit its claims to organize our lives. This, too, is the legacy of a primordial world where we had to strive to provide for our families, for the future of our genes. It was the greedy- or at least their offspring- who inherited the earth.

We are built to never be satisfied, because the things necessary for survival were hard to come by. We are programed to go out perpetually hunting for shelter, food, water, sex; we chase elusive goals in the belief that permanent satisfaction- happiness- i just around the corner. Only it never is. Of course, in these primal bodily needs there is the possibility for human pleasure. But we must learn to tame the beast. We can feed ourselves without becoming, gluttons; we can house ourselves without turning into mini property speculators. We can enjoy water without wasting it, and can propagate without becoming promiscuous. The key is to keep out desire for self-preservation in check in a world where it is just too easy for our genes to go into overdrive, too easy to live from hand to mouth, too easy never to make the most of out gender side, never to allow our equally important but less dominant urges to be realized.