Do you live in your own home? Do you buy your food at the grocery store? Do you do the things that will make or keep you physically healthy? If the answer is yes, then you have demonstrated your Capacity to Manipulate Your Environment Directly.
That ability to “manipulate” your environment is the 6th Attribute in this series of 12 Attributes of Human Functioning that Michael Murphy wrote about in his book The Future of the Body, and discussed in the much more reader friendly book, The Life We are Given, by Michael Murphy and George Leonard.
What does Murphy mean by Environment? He defined it, in an early TV interview, as: “physical spaces and the way they influence the way we think, and interact with the world; how natural and man made environments influence human behavior, and how we can manipulate those natural and man made environments to adapt to our evolving wants and needs.
He includes our own bodies and minds as part of the “environment”, and goes on to write about how we change our physical internal and external environment as a means to evolve. He uses the term “exceptional functioning” to see into the future as to how we, as humans, will continue to evolve.
In simple terms, how we manipulate our minds, bodies, activities and surroundings, will determine how we live now, and how we will evolve and live in the future.
Murphy suggests that even lower animals can manipulate their internal and external environments. Beavers build houses of sticks and mud. Bears hibernate in caves in the winter. Some animals will grow thicker fur in the winter to protect them from the cold.
Humans control their own internal and external environments on a much higher plane. We build mansions, automobiles, fly at 35,000 feet above the earth, and some even leave the earth’s atmosphere for a while. Humans learned to use fire for cooking and for warmth, and now we use electricity and gas for the same functions. That’s evolving by manipulating the environment according to Murphy.
Physically, we learn to take care of our bodies , . . or not. If we do, we feel good, stay slim, and live longer as a rule. If we don’t . . . well, you know. We have evolved from foraging for plants, nuts, berries and vegetables, to buying prepackaged food at the grocery stores. Sometimes manipulating our environment is called “progress”. Sometimes it’s not.
As we age, we begin to lose some of the control over where we live and what we eat, and sometimes our ability to drive and stay mobile and independent. But we can do things for ourselves, physical and mental, that will allow us to control where we live, how we eat and how we get around for much longer than just a few short decades ago. We have the ability to “manipulate” our personal environment so we live longer, healthier, and happier lives than at any time in history. It’s up to each of us to do the “manipulation” that will keep us around longer, and to get the most from The Life We are Given.
Thank you for reading.