Since I think evolution is absolutely fundamental to our lives, I think that the world is full of factors and processes that support evolution. I think that individuality is a powerful enhancer of evolution. Diversity breeds evolution. The more differences there are among people, the greater the opportunities to learn, grow and expand by exposure to the variety of ideas and opinions. Everyone of us in Canada is enhanced enormously by the cultural diversity we enjoy. And within cultures, there is more and more diversity.
We see differences and we see common features with our fellow humans. There is much that bonds us all – fundamental values, experiences and emotions. But we are all individuals with unique experiences, temperaments, and ideas. It is easy to see ourselves as members of tribes and there are powerful social forces that encourage our identity in that way.
It’s also easy to take at least some of our personal views for granted, as being shared by everyone. A trivial example for me was when I found out that many people do not share my love of spring – my favorite season. I assumed my feelings were widespread and when I found out lots of people loved fall as their favorite season, I was really surprised. But vive la difference! Even in this small way, the world is a richer place for that tiny difference among people.
I just came across an article that explored a phenomenon that I would have assumed did not exist. A good number of people do not react positively to music – all music. According to the article, 3 to 5% of the population do not enjoy music – musical anhedonia. Anhedonia is the inability to feel pleasure for anything, which is associated with so-called mood disorders – I guess by definition.
Musical anhedonia is not temporary, but appears to be a feature of how some people’s brains or minds are wired. The why is completely open to speculation and I believe we really have no clue to the fundamental source of our ideas, emotions, thoughts, and beliefs. Our knowledge of the nature of our consciousness remains very primitive, but our brain activity can certainly point to something that’s going on with us.
This article discussed a study that looked at the neural response of people based on their feelings for music – those who were apathetic about music, those who liked music, and those who love music – called hyper-hedonics. They found that when listening to music, members of the three groups showed significant differences in their neural responses. They simply found that people who enjoyed music more showed more activity occurring between the auditory and reward regions of the brain.
It’s easy to see that this is perhaps obvious and doesn’t tell us a great deal. But for me, it’s a potent reminder that as similar as we may seem to be to our partners, friends, family, and even strangers, there can be profound differences that can have an enormous effects on how we see and experience the world. In the article, a woman who is a retired engineer feels essentially nothing – “music sits in an odd spot halfway between boring and distracting.” Yet she came from a very musical family.
As a passionate lover of music I simply cannot imagine not enjoying music and I think most people feel the same way. But not all do and that is important to remember as we live our lives. Our experiences are absolutely unique to ourselves and that’s a very good thing. It fuels our expansion and growth, but we must never forget how many differences we may have that are not at all apparent. I think opening ourselves up to that awareness of the uniqueness of ourselves and others, leads to a happier life as well as greater evolution and expansion – the virtuous circle.