We are each products of three layers of evolution:
- Biological Evolution
- Cultural Evolution
- Personal Evolution
Biological evolution is not moving very quickly at the present time. That could change with new genetic engineering technologies, but, for now it’s best to regard our biological natures as fixed. The boundaries between our biological and cultural heritages are not always clear, but our biologies are, broadly speaking, responsible for many of our drives and emotions, and at least some aspects of our personalities. We can work with our natures, we can fight them, we can work around them (to some degree with recreational and prescription drugs), but we can’t really change them. This is true for our species as a whole, and it’s especially true for each of us as individuals.
Cultural evolution happens considerably more quickly. We were handed a cultural heritage as children, and, despite the fact that we take much of it for granted, this heritage is responsible for much of who we are. Reading, writing, counting, scientific methodologies, our calendar, and our clocks are all part of this heritage, as are the kinds of clothing we wear, the kinds of food we eat, our religious beliefs (or lack thereof), our prejudices, and our political policy stances. When children absorb their ambient cultural heritage they are generally able to move about both the physical world and the social landscape more effectively.
Unlike biological evolution, cultural evolution happens quickly enough for us to notice changes during our lifetimes. Fashions change. Policies change. Technologies change. And we would do well to keep up with these changes. For the most part we are passive observers, but we also have some power to shape the new fashions, policies, and technologies to which others must adapt.
Personal evolution is the most rapid of them all. We have the power to very rapidly and effectively change many things about ourselves within the context of our biological and cultural heritages. We can change how much we understand of our biology and our culture. We can learn new skills. We can hone existing skills. We can break old habits. We can form new habits. We can change our mindsets. We can change our relationships. And we can change the pace at which we make all these other changes, so we can achieve more and contribute more to the world around us.
If you like the idea of creating more and more effective versions of yourself, please join us as we evolve together.