Survival of the Fittest. A phrase tossed around so often that over time its original meaning seems to be lost in translation. Let’s talk about it for a bit to see if we can straighten it out.
What comes to mind when thinking about “fit”? Possibly something like this…
Or even this…
Makes sense. All of these concepts have something to do with being “fit” at least in our cultural definition of the idea. However, in our currently shifting paradigm, we must look at the connections between these viewpoints and see that it is the ability to adapt that helps one survive through almost anything. Adaptability… resilience…strength…this idea can be framed differently depending upon the context, but the end result is similar – and we can use the Essential Elements of Life™ to help us manifest this state within our own lives. How? Follow me on a little journey to find out more…
To start, let’s take a look at the theory that spawned the cliche. Where did this theory come from? Well, we can thank Charles Darwin for bringing this phrase into the mainstream, way back in the 1850s. A man of God, but scientifically curious, Darwin took many chances in his lifetime by sharing his scientific ideas, theories, and research with the mainstream. He struggled to connect what he believed in with what he could see and spent his life working to reconcile the two ways of life.
Of course, once a theory is introduced to the world, other humans come along to misconstrue it, and this happened often to Darwin. Many of Darwin’s theories have been twisted over time, but none more detrimental to the ACTUAL survival of our species than his ideas regarding the concept of survival and of being fit. His work on the Galapagos Islands focused on why animals thrived there, away from so much of the world. His research on finches, and their extraordinary adaptive existence even from other types of finches on the island, led him to discover that: individuals of a species are not identical (Darwin).
There were three other major theories he surmised:
- Traits are passed from generation to generation
- More offspring are born than can survive
- Only the survivors of the competition for resources will reproduce
All of these ideas focus on “adaptability” as a strength, rather than strength as a means to an end.
Survival of the Fittest: DEFINED
The original definition of “survival of the fittest” says: “the continued existence of organisms which are best adapted to their environment, with the extinction of others, as a concept in the Darwinian theory of evolution” (oxford languages). This doesn’t specifically mean strong, it means capable; it doesn’t mean power, it means adapting effectively in order to allow for the survival of a species. Essentially, Darwin surmised that the fittest individuals who are able to best adapt to their environment “will leave the most copies of itself in successive generations.”(Spencer, 1864)
Survival can mean many things depending upon where we live, how we live, and which level of Maslow’s hierarchy we exist within during different phases of our lives. Personally, I have struggled with the idea of survival meaning “reproductive success” as I was someone born without the ability to reproduce. For whatever reason, as there is nothing specific in my past to pinpoint where my issue started, it was not in the cards for me to be consumed with the survival of my own offspring. It wasn’t easy, at first, to accept this idea, and I fought it for quite a while. However, after a few years of stress, trials, tribulations, more stress, tears, fights, pleas, etc. I have been able to work through this and find peace.
While it wasn’t easy, I share this not for pity, but for clarity. Many people (although the trends are definitely changing here), accept the fact that they will have children and those children will become the focus of their lives for different periods of time. Some want children to carry on a legacy, others find joy in caretaking, some want a chance to help a human grow in a healthy and happy way, still others want them as an insurance policy for old age. ☻ I wanted all of those things and more. Once I accepted it wasn’t going to happen for me, I had times of depression, self-doubt, and eventually resignation.
Thankfully, my story didn’t end there. Our souls were meant to create, I just had to come to the conclusion that my “creation” would be something besides a smaller version of my husband and me. Working through the lessons added to the Essential Elements of Life™ (before they were an actual philosophy), helped me to discover my actual purpose. This in itself was a form of “adaptability”.
Some people, once they find a goal, can become obsessed with that one thing. I have spoken with so many people, and read so many articles, comments, and threads, filled with people desiring ONE outcome (a baby, a certain school, a particular person, a specific goal). Believing this is their ultimate purpose, they are set on never moving forward until those things are attained. The longer this goes on, the more desperate they become, and they can easily become consumed by regret (if it never happens), spite, or even disappointment (when one attains the goal but turns out it wasn’t really what their soul was searching). All of this feeds upon itself and leads to many unhappy humans.
Adaptability seems unrealistic to these unhappy humans. Changing course seems unthinkable, and this has led to a multitude of our species simply giving up. This is who I am working to help. To show people who feel stuck that, like me, they too can find a way to find fulfillment even if things haven’t worked out perfectly (or even close).
Sacrifice is necessary to find our way
Sacrifice is difficult because it almost always brings with it pain. Living creatures spend a lot of their lives moving away from pain and towards comfort, always updating their environment to help provide the most comfortable way of life. To illustrate, let us think of life as a game where each phase of life is a different playing field.
Life puts obstacles, adventures, and mishaps in our path to teach us what we need to know to get to a new level. Only then, once we have learned these lessons, can we step up to a new challenge and progress to our highest potential. But these obstacles, adventures, and mishaps take work, energy, and effort to conquer. This is the tradeoff of sacrifice – we give our energy to understand and clear the hurdle and we are then rewarded for our pain and suffering with wisdom and hopefully a better circumstance.
If we decide that we do not want to sacrifice, then we have to find ways of getting around, mitigating, or avoiding the obstacles we come across. When humans feel stress, it makes them feel that they are already sacrificing just by being alive and making it through each day. Many people give up or don’t even want to try anymore. Many feel that the playing field has been tampered with or booby-trapped, and there is no fair way to win. This is the current state of our world.
I understand this, and in some ways very much agree, however, I know a secret. I know how to win because I am winning, and I have spent a lot of time finding out how to teach others to do the same.
Creating the Essential Elements of Life™
Looking at my situation as a question instead of a problem I asked myself: “what am I here to do?” “What are the natural talents my soul can offer the world?”
I have spent the years since expanding my knowledge in the areas that I cared about: the human condition, culture, goal achievement, fulfillment, happiness (& unhappiness), change, etc. I have worked to understand what connects us, what we need for the future, and how best to help those discouraged about their circumstances to find fulfillment. Out of all of this information, experiments, trials, and more I crafted a paradigm called the Essential Elements of Life™
This is what I have to offer the world. It is always morphing, changing, and expanding, but the main tenets – the ten concepts all humans must understand and plan for – have remained the same. My hope is that they assist others struggling to find their place in this world. My hope is that these teachings and ideas help other humans to become “fit” and able to survive no matter what may come.
Why learn the Essential Elements of Life™?
Learning and living the Essential elements of life™ is about knowing yourself and how best to work within the concepts of the universe, of what comes, rather than push them away, obfuscate, or hide.
Coexisting with Change, Examining Expectations, Deliberating Decisions, Embracing Emotions – the Stepping Stones, or the first set, of the Essential Elements of Life™ help us to learn better how to successfully navigate life and all the challenges that may come our way.
It doesn’t matter if you like or dislike change, making decisions, the expectations that you or others have, or the emotions that arise within. It’s about understanding how these things affect you and having the ability to create a strategy to best continue to thrive even when outside forces disrupt our rhythm.
If we do not first understand the aspects of our rhythm, then these concepts will continue to put up barriers to the life we really want.
The Essential Elements of Life™ are all about building resilience to the multiple difficult concepts we all experience throughout our lives. They are lessons and teachings that put a name to our stressors, break open blockages from past trauma, and allow us to free ourselves from the chains of unrealistic expectations and emotions. Understanding these lessons allows one to create their own definition of success, their own path to fulfillment, and not only survive but thrive.
Don’t worry about the cat
There is a theory that one may have heard of regarding Schrödinger’s cat. It states that:
“if you place a cat and something that could kill the cat (a radioactive atom) in a box and sealed it, you would not know if the cat was dead or alive until you opened the box, so that until the box was opened, the cat was (in a sense) both “dead and alive”. (wikipedia.org)
Many people live their lives this way. Our minds falsely tell us that not making a decision allows us to live in a suspended state with no repercussions. Well not making a decision is often a decision within itself and can lead to unintended consequences for which we are not ready.
I’m not saying make decisions on a whim. It is important to contemplate decisions, and to plan for the future, but it is just as important to balance this contemplation in order for us to manifest our destiny. Remaining stuck in suspended animation living the same loop day after day is living a life of fear. Life already gives us enough to fear, why bring more undue stress and turmoil to our daily lives?
Our species needs to move away from that mindset towards a more balanced attitude. All of our futures depend on it. Only by deciding can we become attuned with our environment. Only by taking a chance can we grow our resilience and adaptability.
When one learns the Stepping Stones of the Essential Elements of Life™ one can break free of this “stuckness”. It no longer matters if the cat is dead, alive or otherwise.
What matters is that we become equipped to handle as many of the outcomes as possible.
This is what it means to live the ways of “survival of the fittest”.