Sensible Snack: The Number 1 Job of the Human Mind (And Why It Doesn’t Matter Much Anymore)

Sensible Snacks are bite sized nuggets of information to help feed your wallet and nourish your mind.

Image by ElisaRiva from Pixabay

This week I want to briefly introduce you to Dr. Russ Harris, the author of The Happiness Trap, and one of the best teachers of ACT – Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. ACT was developed by Stephen Hayes back in the 1980s as a combination of behavioral and cognitive therapy.

Without getting too far into the weeds of the theory, the main goal of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy is to notice and accept your thoughts and emotions instead of trying to control them. This is especially relevant to negative or critical thoughts, feelings, or memories, which humans tend to fight or hide from. The human mind is simply bad at separating these negative thoughts from facts.

Why is the human mind bad at this?

Because the number 1 job of the human mind is to keep you alive, not to keep you happy.

It has been primed for hundreds of thousands of years to do this single function. Unfortunately (or fortunately, really) it’s a lot easier for us to stay alive these days thanks to medicine, clean water, clothing, police, patriotic adult-sized water wings, safety inspectors, etc., but the mind is still wired the same way it’s always been. In this 7 minute video, Dr. Harris describes 3 main ways that the human mind is still flawed from an evolutionary perspective:

Dr. Russ Harris, an acclaimed ACT trainer and author of The Happiness Trap, discusses the flaws of the human mind from an evolutionary perspective.

The main takeaway from this video is that if you aren’t happy, or you feel anxiety about the future, or you can’t stop thinking about a traumatic memory, it’s because those are exactly the reasons your ancestors survived and you are even alive today. So cut yourself some slack, give yourself some more credit, and spend some time acknowledging this reality.

You can never escape your mind. And for the foreseeable future, you’re going to have the same one you have now. The more you can learn to think within this context, the better you’ll be able to effectively live and grow.

And don’t forget, the quality of your mind can even determine the amount in your bank account.

“The more we try to avoid the basic reality that all human life involves pain, the more we are likely to struggle with that pain when it arises, thereby creating even more suffering.”

Dr. Russ Harris, The Happiness Trap: How To Stop Struggling And Start Living
brain and heart
Image by Gordon Johnson from Pixabay

Learn more about Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and Dr. Russ Harris at There are tons of free resources at and on his YouTube channel.

Disclaimer: Obviously, I am not a therapist and I am not associated with Dr. Harris. I simply support the theory and have found it to be useful in my personal life.

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