Adaptation and Good Stress

Act like the apex predator you are.

There’s a reason human beings control so much of the biosphere. Our ability to use technology as leverage against environment has extended our range and population density far beyond what natural evolution would allow. The ability to survive in a wide variety of environments is a benefit and a drawback simultaneously. We’re arguably too successful, and run the risk of rapidly overrunning and unbalancing the ecosystem without realizing it.

Thankfully the very adaptability that’s gotten us into this mess can get us out of it. One thing I focus on with my kids is never wasting anything. Food scraps, fabric rags, energy – we have more optimization to do but we’re very keen on it. A big transition for us this past winter was keeping the thermostat quite low despite record cold weather. Daytime is no higher than 64F (18C) and nighttime is 59F (15). Initially this is cold. Like, I don’t want to move around at all cold.

But here’s the thing: you adapt. Quite quickly, actually. Instead of saying “I can’t do this”, you start wondering why no one else does it. Do people not realize how warm stores are? I have hated shopping this winter – more than I already hate shopping – partly because the internal temperature is kept so much higher than it needs to be. I’ve read that in many parts of Eastern Europe, it’s considered quite normal to see your breath indoors. This is a bit too hardcore for the Alchemist, but knowing that fact helps me adapt to 64F as the new normal. If they can do that, I can do this.

People forget that stress can be good as well as bad. In fact, to flourish we need good stress. Without exercise – prolonged and strenuous – our bodies forget how to burn fat, rejuvenate tissue, and in general plain fall apart. We developed technology to tame our environment, but we should never let it tame ourselves. Apologies for the language, but we’re motherfucking predators. We are the most badass of a lot of badass creatures out there. It’s time we act like it.

We’re so successful that we think we can get lazy. Laziness is what’s destroying our environment. If we’re going to continue, we need to dial back and let nature fight back a little. We’ll both be better for it.

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6 Comments on “Adaptation and Good Stress”

  1. Brrrr. Mr. FP and I have been living free in employer-provided housing, a gravy train that ends this summer. With free utilities, we’ve gotten a little lazy. Not that we’re deliberately profligate, but we don’t turn the thermostat down below 68/69 even at night. Maybe time next winter to invest in some bathrobes…

    • David says:

      Base layers are the big key. (I use the lightweight synthetic ones because of all the outdoor exercising I do.) Our house isn’t super well insulated though we have new windows. On some of the really cold days, I had to have 2-3 layers on bottom and 4 layers on top.

      Personally, sleeping at 55-60 is fantastic. Have enough covers on the bed. If the thermostat is programmable, have the furnace fire about 30 minutes before you get up.

      It’s eye-opening when you see the gas bill HALF what it was last year, despite the much colder temps this year.

  2. Dr. Doom says:

    Our house is at 58 at night, 65 during the day (Thank you Mr. Programmable Thermostat.) Once I adjust, walking into a friend or relative’s place at 72, it feels like I’m in a sauna — almost gross-hot. Where I live (NE US) we’re still stuck on heating oil which costs a fortune, making the temp drop and adjustment period well worth it for our wallets.
    Adaptation rocks.

    • David says:

      Took the kids to the library last night and I was sweltering in my shorts. I swear they must have had that at 75 or higher. Ack.

  3. […] with it by living according to our natures. Embracing seasonality, living close to the earth and in good stewardship of it, communing with the unknown agency at the core of each other. All of this is worship, not in […]

  4. […] a year ago I wrote about how we need to embrace our status as the apex predator on planet Earth. On the surface, this sounds terrible. It carries all sorts of connotations about […]


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