The contented shall inherit the Earth—The glum? Not so much

The survival of the fittest might just be the survival of the steadfast instead. Having a positive attitude could be evolutionarily advantageous, according to Cornell researchers who simulated generations of evolution in a computational model.

The findings offer scientific support to the ancient philosophical insights from China, Greece and India, which encourage cultivating long-term contentment or rather than grasping at the fleeting joy of instant gratification, the said.

"In an evolutionary sense, you have to evaluate your life on the basis of more than what happened just now," said Shimon Edelman, professor of psychology and a co-author of the study. advantageous in a that simulates evolution.

The "agents" or simulated actors that survived to produce offspring in the researchers' model were the ones that attached more weight to longer-term happiness than to momentary happiness, especially when was scarce. They also "remembered" past happiness for a longer period of time than their less-successful counterparts. No matter whether food was abundant or scarce, the agents that had a more positive outlook - attaching more importance to upswings in their situations than to downswings - also were more evolutionarily fit. Their counterparts that gave more attention to short-term joy and a negative attitude died off.

And when agents compared their food resources with their friends', they did worse when food was abundant.

"It may indeed be advisable, at least under conditions of scarcity or adversity, to focus on longer-term well-being or contentment over momentary pleasures and to be less envious of one's neighbors. Also, in general, it may be wise to mark happy events more than unhappy ones," Edelman said.

The study is based on an integrative for understanding the brain/mind, in which minds are seen as bundles of computational processes implemented by embodied and physically and socially situated brains. The computational framework enables researchers to test explicit functional models of emotions.

"Our hypothesis was, giving more weight to longer-terms considerations like life satisfaction, or at least a longer period than just right now, would be advantageous, at least in some conditions," Edelman said.

The researchers wrote an algorithm in which agents with combinations of traits foraged for food in four types of simulated terrain over the course of six experiments. The traits included positive or negative outlooks, an emphasis on either short-term (hedonic) or long-term (eudaimonic) happiness, and a tendency or an aversion to comparing performance to that of friends. Each type of terrain had a different distribution of food, from a random and scarce pattern to a more clustered and abundant distribution.

Each environment was populated with 400 agents in each generation for 40 generations and repeated each of the six experiments 10 times.

After a set number of cycles, each agent in the top half of performers was allowed to produce offspring that formed the next generation of agents. The bottom 50 percent was terminated. In this way, the researchers assessed the effectiveness of traits by tracking their prevalence in the population over evolutionary time.

The researchers also found the only situation in which those with a more conservative outlook had a higher level of evolutionary fitness was a harsh environment, in which poison was distributed along with food.

What does the study say for those who seek a clear path to happiness?

Know thyself, Edelman said.

"Instead of relying blindly on advice from self-help authors about how to be happy, get to know yourself - what your brain/mind is like, how it works and how it interacts with the world - and you'll be in a better position to decide for yourself," Edelman said.

The study "Between Pleasure and Contentment: Evolutionary Dynamics of Some Possible Parameters of Happiness," was published May 4 in PLOS ONE. Edelman's co-author, Yue Gao, is a doctoral candidate in the field of computer science.


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Journal information: PLoS ONE

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May 04, 2016
"The findings offer scientific support to the ancient philosophical insights from China, Greece and India, which encourage cultivating long-term contentment or life satisfaction rather than grasping at the fleeting joy of instant gratification, the researchers said."

"No matter whether food was abundant or scarce, the agents that had a more positive outlook - attaching more importance to upswings in their situations than to downswings - also were more evolutionarily fit.(..)."

Philosophical truisms are also the foundations of religious thought, where both were required for setting forth the foundations of the sciences.
Contentment, along with a base of fervent faith/belief in the Creator were responsible for the adjustments to dire circumstances which Job of the Old Testament, in his trials and tribulations, had experienced. In spite of emotional upheavals, Job accepted that which he could not control, with the understanding that life would eventually improve.


May 04, 2016
This reminds me of the "Serenity Prayer".
I copied this from Wikipedia...with the belief that it exemplifies best the spirit of the article above.

"The Serenity Prayer is the common name for a prayer authored by the American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr[1][2] (1892–1971). The best-known form is:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference."

May 06, 2016
Really questionable. Survival is as likely to go to the miserable since they lacking joy they persist in the hope that they might find it for themselves or their offspring. While they die never having found it, they have acted in the battles of life such that their genes become those of the next generation.
The open access paper can be found here http://journals.p....0153193

May 06, 2016
@socks Point that needs emphasis is that the creator is YOU. More specifically the E8 symmetry group common to particle physics, I-Ching and the Tetragrammitron. If you follow the bible you should not ignore the first pages, which specifically state the book is about the Tetragrammitron

If you need to believe in some sky fairy you have not understood any part of the bible or much of life in general

May 07, 2016
The God's word recorded in the Bible says that the mild and humble will inherite the Earth. Among the heirs will be lambs but not goats - the children of disobediance whose spiritual food is pride and vanity.

May 07, 2016
The God's word recorded in the Bible says that the mild and humble will inherite the Earth. Among the heirs will be lambs but not goats - the children of disobediance whose spiritual food is pride and vanity.
@viko_mx If you are tired of waiting for your inheritance, you can get a compost toilet

May 07, 2016
I hope you to have enough time to reconsider you attitude because God's day will come as a thief and will caught many by surprise despite the long term wornings.

May 07, 2016
the long term wornings
1- there is no such thing as a "worning"
2- spell check can be loaded onto your PC/Laptop for free (use and search engine or load Keynote)
3- you're religion is one of the many factions of the Abrahamic faith, but you claim your cult is the "one true" cult... and that is not hypocritical to you?
How do you know that one of the 35K plus others aren't more valid?

4- if you even considered your deity to be relevant you wouldn't violate his commandments
5- JER 31:27 - 37

just because you believe it doesn't mean it's true
there are faiths far older in the world than yours that your own faith stole myths from

May 09, 2016

The God's word recorded in the Bible says that the mild and humble will inherite the Earth. Among the heirs will be lambs but not goats - the children of disobediance whose spiritual food is pride and vanity.


I admire the key features of religion, christianity, etc. Yet to just accept everything you are told is not intelligent. Do you "behave" out of fear of punishment from God? Ha!

This article discusses simulations they have done trying to see the outcome of emotion health on survival. The article tells us what we already know, that to persist with hope improves your survival rates. There are logical reasons: You would be more likely to trust others and work together, You would likely help others to feel good, which in turn would make them more likely to help you, and so on. You could persist in a less than ideal state for longer, by focusing on the positive.


May 09, 2016
Robots don't suffer from religion. They know their creators. Their emotional IQ may be low but more tolerable than the religious inanity constantly spewed by some crazy primates

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