As we know, one of the reasons we love fatty foods is that our brains haven’t yet evolved not to crave it. Fatty food was important for survival, and so we find hot chips or buttery toast or chocolate or ice-cream easy to love, and harder to resist. Even though our current situation may mean they are not good for us, and contribute to disease and obesity. And so resisting these foods goes against our nature.
It got me thinking. What else has my brain craved? And, apart from connection, which is still important in our societies and for our well-being, it was the desire to have a child. The world is over-populated, improved health care means children do not die as often in infancy or childhood, and so there is no need for us all – or even half of us - to have children to continue the survival of the human race. Yet we are still hard-wired – many of us – to want children. Our brains haven’t evolved not to crave children either. It was a shock to me to discover this in practice, to go through the desire, and then the grief I had never really anticipated. After all, as we often hear people say, I thought I knew what it was to live life without children. But it was a big difference living the rest of my life without children too.
So we not only don’t get what we wanted. It’s that we then need to deal with the brain’s craving, by reprogramming our brains (as I have always called it) to adjust to life without children. But as I learned how to do this, I realised I could apply it to other parts of my life too. We can adjust. It is possible. In fact, it is essential. It just requires some awareness, some courage, and some hard work.