Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Adventure + Scaring the crap out of yourself + Making a story you'll tell for a lifetime = Fitness

Isn't it great when you experience a challenge and adventure that generates a story that you tell for the rest of your life? There's something unique and differentiating about these adventures – like mountain climbs. Maybe it's the small-scale petty stresses and too-frequent inanities of modern life that throw unique events in remote landscapes into stark relief, not just the fact that you're stretching your personal limits; pushing the envelope in a way you were not sure was possible.

"Sensation seeking" and novelty is also part of our evolutionary past. Professor Marvin Zuckerman has done a lot of research on this issue. We have a built-in drive for novel, even risky contexts that manifest themselves differently in people. Here's an excerpt from a Q&A with Prof. Zuckerman called The Genetic Basis For Risk Seeking:

Question: Was sensation-seeking a factor in human evolution?

Marvin Zuckerman: Well we can surmise that particularly since a particular gene has been found to be related to sensation-seeking, a dopamine receptor gene. So that means it’s been there a long time. Well, actually they estimate though that it’s been – not all evolution maybe 50,000-100,000 years old in our species, this particular gene but there may be genes that are older even. But you see this in other – the point is, you see what I call emalogues of sensation-seeking behavior in other species. In fact, a lot of my work is compared sensation-seeking expressions exploration approach to novelty in other species. And I explored to the extent that do they have the same biological roots in humans and in other species. So, in that sense we look at evolution – we have a modern test of evolution when you can find something that exists in humans in earlier species, particularly primates ****, but also even in rats, when you can find this and it’s linked to the same biological indicators in both humans and other animals. That indicates it has an evolutionary history rather it’s more than merely an analogy. Well this looks like what we do. But it’s more than that, it’s the fact that it looks like sensation-seeking and has the same biological roots.


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I'm climbing the Monch and the Jungfrau in about a month with a guide. I'm now training specifically in earnest for it – heavy-pack hiking and weights. Remember, specificity is what training for an event is all about.

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