481488789An evolutionary analysis posits that human emotions are evolved mechanisms that have been passed on from our ancestors who survived and successfully reproduced. That means emotions have specific and adaptive functions that have helped humans solve specific problems in the past. Buss (2000) article offers great evolutionary insights into definitions of happiness and how we can increase our happiness in the modern world. One thing to note in mind is that the foundation of evolutionary psychology is based on the position that our human minds are not adapted to the modern environment but reflect the adaptive mechanisms in our ancestry past. Our adaptations are not up-to-date!

The article first describes the differences between modern and ancestral environments. To some extent, modern technology helps us control pain, cold, food, parasites, predators, mortality rate (e.g. childbirth), etc. However, we are facing modern health illness. To name a few, consider diabetes, clogged arteries, heart diseases, drug addictions, massive wars, skin cancer, self-esteem issues, perhaps because of our constant exposure and comparison to millions of people who are above our standard (in the past, our ancestors only had a few friends, kin and potential mates in a group), jobs, etc. These have been massive unprecedented problems very few of our ancestors would have been faced. Read detailed insights from Buss(2000) here:


Buss (2000) posits that the origin of human happiness has been also selected via taking pleasure in the downfall of others. This “Schadenfareude” thing gave our ancestors advantages to survive and reproduce at other’s loss. Other related evolutionary forces and situations for our feelings of unhappiness were also explained in the article. Buss (2000) suggested a few advices in becoming happier.  Again evolutionary psychology is based on the theoretical and empirical premise that human adaptations are delayed and reflect adaptation in stone age, Therefore Buss(2000) advices imply that we can increase happiness by mimicking the actions that would have increased happiness in our ancestors. Here are a few advice mentioned in the article:

  1. Stay emotionally connected to your extended kin

Exploit technology such as phones, video calls, emails, etc. in communication long-distance kin (our brain doesn’t “know” the differences).

  1. Increase deep and close friendship

Our ancestors lived in a small social group and have more reliable and reciprocal friends than us, who live in the modern urban areas with thousands of people).

  1. Choose mate who is similar

(one reduces the potential distress of jealousy and infidelity)

  1. Have extended kin and family members close to you

We have more privacy in our modern environment; so Buss(2000) reasoned that incest, child abuse, wife battering would be reduced when kins are around. Our kin would be there to protect and help us.

  1. Be educated in evolved psychological mechanisms in humans.

The idea is that we would be more mindful about our choices and decisions when we know what we are up to.

  1. Manage competitive mechanisms

Cooperate, reciprocate and commit to the relationships to make yourself happier

  1. Fulfill your desire

Health, intimacy, achievement, professional success, safety, resources, high-quality food, etc.

I do not take any credits for any of the ideas in the article. The article is simply summarized from evolutionary insights from Buss(2000) article called The Evolution of Happiness. The detailed article is a lot more worth exploring and elaborated with the support of empirical evidences from researches. You can access the full article in the link above.


Buss, D. M. (2000). The evolution of happiness. American Psychologist, 55(1),

15-23. doi:10.1037/0003-066X.55.1.15

Buss, D. M. (2000). The evolution of happiness. American Psychologist, 55(1),

15-23. doi:10.1037/0003-066X.55.1.15


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