Tag Archives: Relationships

Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality by Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jetha

Summary
  1. “Since Darwin’s day, we’ve been told that sexual monogamy comes naturally to our species. Mainstream science, as well as religious and cultural institutions, has maintained that men and women evolved in families in which a man’s possessions and protection were exchanged for a woman’s fertility and fidelity. But this narrative is collapsing. Fewer and fewer couples are getting married, and divorce rates keep climbing as adultery and flagging libido drag down even seemingly solid marriages…Ryan and Jetha’s central contention is that human beings evolved in egalitarian groups that shared food, child care, and, often, sexual partners…The authors expose the ancient roots of human sexuality while pointing toward a more optimistic future illuminated by our innate capacities for love, cooperation, and generosity.”
Key Takeaways
  1. The denial or ignorance of our true sexual nature is leaving millions of relationships in tatters as people don’t see themselves and their partners for what they truly are – descendants of hyper sexual primates
  2. Pornography makes more money than CBS and NBC combined and more money is spent at strip clubs than at jazz, comedy, Broadway and similar concerts combined
  3. The discrepancy between what we are told to feel sexually and what we actually feel may be one of the greatest causes of misery in today’s world
  4. Our ancestors probably lived in tight social groups where they shared almost everything, including sexual partners. Sharing of everything was simply the most effective way to minimize risk. This trend began to slowly change during the agricultural revolution. What we often assume is a product of our modern society, may have its roots much further back than we think. Agriculture, more than perhaps anything else ever has or will, fundamentally changed how humans thought, interacted, lived, worshiped, and more.
  5. Culture is so deeply ingrained and feels so natural to us that it is very hard to distinguish what is cultural vs human. What doesn’t feel right isn’t always wrong
  6. Changing food supplies, population densities, socio-economic opportunities, and more leads to all hell breaking loose in captive primate populations, just as it would in humans
  7. Because of our social tendencies, solitary confinement is the greatest torture there is
  8. One doesn’t need threats of death to follow one’s nature
  9. There are dozens of examples throughout the world of different familial and sexual relations – whole society takes care of kids and thinks of them as their own
  10. Humans, by far, spend the most time thinking about and engaging in sex. We are one of the few species in the world which have sex for fun and when the woman can’t bear children
  11. When looked at our biological ancestry, the standard Western narrative of monogamy and limited female sexual appetite seems terribly wrong
  12. The only way to live longer reliably is to sleep more and eat less
  13. A ton of discussion about how our foraging ancestors had a better lifestyle than many currently think and better than most people even have today in our modern, consumer, stressful, dense culture.
  14. Similar male to female size, size of male testes, general anatomy and more all point to a polygamous past
  15. Female copulatory vocalization (moans) are thought to have evolved in our polygamous past to let other males know that they may have a chance to get lucky
  16. There is research indicating that there is an inverse correlation in societies between sex and violence. Maybe this is part of why Britain was so eager for war
  17. One theory for men’s infidelity and constant search for novelty is as a means to decrease incest. By always wanting something new, they went seeking for new mates in different tribes and areas. While monogamy is the predominant relationship dynamic, there is so much infidelity and failed marriages that the authors think there might be a better way (having casual sexual relations in the side) but stress that each person must figure out what makes the most sense for them
  18. Higher levels of sex is correlated with lower levels of disease
  19. By making talking about sex taboo, Western societies distort how big of a deal sex is. It is essential but we need not take it so seriously. The sexual culture may be moving towards a more casual hooking up culture like that of our ancestors and may lead to less pathological issues
  20. One of the first examples of polyamorous relationships in modern Western culture was in Air Force pilots. So many of them were killed in battle that this may have been a way of ensuring that the pilot’s wife and kids would have someone else looking after them in case they were killed in battle
What I got out of it
  1. Don’t agree with a lot of the author’s conclusions but they do a thorough job of starting from an evolutionary, biological, social perspective and building up from there

Management of the Absurd by Richard Farson

Summary
  1. Human relations are often paradoxical and not logical and this book explains why many assumptions about people, relationships and “managing” we make are in fact false. “Paradoxes are seeming absurdities and people logically try to rationalize them but here we are going to try to suppress that in order to better understand real life situations.”
Key Takeaways
  1. How we think shapes what we see and paradox and absurdity are part of nearly every interaction
  2. It is important to dispel these logical yet false assumptions because when they inevitably fail, managers get frustrated and aren’t well prepared to handle these situations
  3. Managers do things right, leaders do the right things
  4. Absurdity and paradox will be with us as long as humans are around as they arise due to human nature and its flaws
  5. People must know you are a genuine person and not just a “manager.” Vulnerability is sometimes the best way to act
  6. It can be a relief to many to realize you cannot perfectly learn how to deal with others. There is no perfect way. Any technique loses its power once others realize it is a technique. The best people in any field or endeavor leave technique behind and are simply genuine and authentic
  7. Understanding how something works doesn’t mean you can make it work
  8. Praise may not be as effective of a motivator as people think. It may be a status play that managers need to be sensitive to. Better for a manager to be involved and care about the employees’ work. Praise from a third party is often the most effective
  9. The best resource to resolve a problem is sometimes the group who is experiencing or brings up the problem. Deeper fluency with their own problem and can of course see through their own eyes better than others can
  10. The people with the problems often have the best insights into how to fix the problem and if you involve them there will be much greater buy in and adherence
  11. It is amazing how resilient the individual is yet how fragile the organization made up of these individuals can be
  12. Participative approaches are often more effective in getting people involved and generating ideas but this isn’t often employed. Managers may not truly trust their people and the employees may not have the confidence at first to express their opinions
  13. The best way to improve work and output may not be through management but simply by improving relations
  14. Organizations that need the most help often can benefit the least. The mentally healthiest people can often change the most and gain from it. Often the people who need to change least are forced to in order to accommodate others – may not be fair but it sure is effective
  15. People and companies suffer most often because of fraying or lack of relations
  16. Often, the better things are the worse people feel. Revolutions begin not at the trough but only when things slightly improve. The theory of rising expectations. They are discontented because of higher level concerns. This is actually progress though it may not seem like it at first. The highest performing organizations have the highest order grumbles – self actualization. People will never be totally content. The best campuses and countries often have the most restless populace. The most effective reformers are often thrown out by the very people they have been helping – rising expectations take over
  17. Although creativity seems encouraged it really isn’t because truly creative ideas would require tremendous change. Breakthrough changes always breaks the rules. What people seem to really want is manageable creativity. Long term, respected institutions cannot be as creative as newer ones can and that is why true breakthroughs tend to come from individuals, smaller groups or others who are “outside”. Scale is the enemy of creativity
  18. Leadership is less the property of an individual and should be distributed among its members
  19. Often easier to make big changes rather than small ones as the benefits are so much more drastic. In a group that’s working well without titles or other forms of physical status it would be hard to tell apart the leader from the other members
  20. Often people learn better from others’ mistakes than successes as we can better empathize with them
  21. Failure could be one’s best teacher but it really isn’t as people don’t take the time or make the effort to truly analyze them. It is hard to look yourself in the mirror after a failure
  22. Everything works yet nothing works. Almost all management techniques work somewhat but lasting change is almost impossible to implement. Lasting changes only occur when sound practices are implemented on a continual and sustainable basis
  23. Planning is a poor way to asses the future but it can be helpful for assessing the present. The process and not the product is the important part to help with anticipative behavior
  24. The most impactful leaders do not dominate a group but serve it. Humility comes naturally to the best leaders
  25. The best leaders seem to have the confidence to trust their intuition- the accumulation of experience and learnings that they can draw and act upon. These visceral reactions are often ignored but should be paid attention to while looking for objective information
  26. Efforts to fix people usually don’t work and can be counterproductive. The best managers try to fix the situation or environment rather than the person. Circumstances are powerful influences on behavior
  27. The best managers create an ecosystem where their passion is the organizing and motivating force. This makes the tough pursuit worthwhile and draws others into the mission
  28. Love is fundamental to good leadership as leadership is all about caring
  29. Community is one of the most powerful yet fragile parts of an organization. It takes a lot of time and trust to build and can be ruined quite quickly. An insidious part of the erosion of communities is that it is often made in the name of progress and scale
  30. Amateur comes from the Greek word amator which means “love.” An amateur does what he does out of love. A manager needs to work from a place of love
What I got out of it
  1. Often opportunity lies in paradox, misunderstandings or things which seem counterintuitive. This book is filled with those situations and keeping them in mind when dealing with people will be helpful. The rule of reciprocity is always in play. Treat others as you want to be treated. Embody those things which you yourself are looking for. Genuinely having respect will be invisibly and silently communicated to others. Verbal communication is only a small fraction of all communication. The silent, meta message tends to be more powerful than the message itself

The Truth by Neil Strauss

Summary
  1. Strauss details his life and how he dealt with his desires for others while also wanting a meaningful relationship
Key Takeaways
  1. What you don’t know controls you
  2. Strauss walks us through the lessons he has learned about commitments and relationships and how to best form and cultivate them
  3. Anything emotionally traumatizing is with us forever and manifests itself in many different ways. What is hysterical is historical
  4. Children who are over controlled by their parents often compensate as adults by excessive lying
  5. The sins of the parents are the Destinys of the children unless they wake up and do something about it
  6. Aim to be an “independent spectator” of your own life to get a better perspective on the story you tell yourself about your life – gives you a clearer view of the baggage you carry around
  7. Only when your love for someone exceeds your need for them can a true relationship form
  8. Real truth is self evident. You feel it immediately resonate through your body as your heart and mind connect. All else is just information, not truth
  9. Impatience is the enemy of intimacy
  10. Where there is reactivity there is a wound
  11. You can’t commit to someone expecting them to change. You must wholeheartedly accept who they are
  12. The opposite of fear is not love but acceptance
  13. The most loving thing you can do for others is to strengthen the relationship you have with yourself. The greatest gift to others is our own best self
What I got out of it
  1. A very honest detailing of Strauss’ life and struggles with monogamy and relationships

How to Love by Thich Nhat Hanh

How to Love

Summary
  1. Thich Nhat Hanh distills love to some of its core attributes and reminds us that we cannot possibly love others until we love ourselves, it takes understanding to love and that love is made of four key elements – loving kindness, compassion, joy and equanimity
Key Takeaways
  1. True love is made of four elements: loving kindness, compassion, joy, and equanimity
  2. You can’t offer happiness until you have it for yourself
  3. We can also call it inclusivesness or nondiscrimination. In a deep relationship, there’s no longer a boundary between you and the other person
  4. True love cannot be without trust and respect for oneself and for the other person
  5. There are three kinds of intimacy: physical, emotional, and spiritual
  6. Loving someone doesn’t mean saying “yes” to whatever the other person wants. The basis of loving someone else is to know yourself and to know what you need
  7. True love gives us a lot of space. It is not possessive by any means
  8. True love includes a sense of responsibility and accepting the other person as she is, with all her strengths and weaknesses. If you only like the best things in a person, that is not love. You have to accept her weaknesses and bring your patience, understanding, and energy to help her transform.
  9. Other people’s actions are the result of their own pain and not the result of any intention to hurt you. A wrong perception can be the cause of a lot of suffering. This is why, whenever we have a perception, we have to ask ourselves if our perception is right.
  10. To love is, first of all, to accept ourselves as we actually are
  11. I think of our behavior in terms of being more or less skillful rather than in terms of good and bad. If you are skillful, you can avoid making yourself suffer and the other person suffer. If there’s something you want to tell the other person, then you have to say it, but do so skillfully, in a way that leads to less rather than more suffering
  12. One way we nourish our love is by being conscious of what we consume. Many of us think of our daily nourishment only in terms of what we eat. But in fact, there are four kinds of food that we consume every day. They are: edible food (what we put in our mouths to nourish our bodies), sensory food (what we smell, hear, taste, feel, and touch), volition (the motivation and intention that fuels us), and consciousness (this includes our individual consciousness, the collective consciousness, and our environment).
  13. Our individual consciousness is influenced by the collective consciousness of our environment. We absorb and reflect what is around us.
  14. We should practice in such a way that every moment is fulfilling. We should feel satisfaction in every breath, in every step, in every action
  15. Meditation consists of generating three kinds of energy: mindfulness, concentration, and insight
  16. The notions and ideas we have about happiness can entrap us. We forget that they are just notions and ideas. Our idea of happiness may be the very thing that’s preventing us from being happy. When we’re caught in a belief that happiness should take a particular form, we fail to see the opportunities for joy that are right in front of us.
  17. Live in a way that encourages deep happiness in yourself and others. You can vow to bring joy to one person in the morning and to help relieve the suffering of one person in the afternoon. Ask yourself, “Who can I make smile this morning?” This is the art of creating happiness.
What I got out of it
  1. Quick but hugely helpful read about what it means to love and what kind of mindset and qualities it takes to have true, deep and lasting love

Read How to Love

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