Yuval Harari’s book, Sapiens: A Brief History of Mankind, enables readers to realize how modern human beings arrived at their current position. It’s a wonderful book every unbounded thinker must read.
A few months ago, I provided you with the most enlightening quotes from the book. Today, I’ll share with you 9 lessons I learned from the book.
- Trade Cannot Exist Without Trust
Trade exists because we trust our money, banks, and companies. We trust that companies will deliver the products we want if we deposit money in their bank accounts, and companies trust the banks in which we deposit our money.
Besides modern trade, ancient trade existed because traders trusted each other. All traders believed that other traders had good intentions and for this reason, they went to market centers to trade with them.
- Why People Eat Too Much High-Calorie Foods
Today, we wonder why we love high-calorie foods despite knowing that they are harmful to our health. Yuval Harari reveals that we do so because human beings were wired to eat large quantities of high-calorie foods since these foods were scarce in the ancient world. In the book, he provides an example of an ancient woman who stumbles upon a tree full of figs and consumes as many figs as possible because she knows that she might not eat a single fig if a troop of baboons finds the tree.
- The Pursuit of An Easier Life Always Results in Hardships
Human beings experienced many hardships when they left a nomadic life for an ‘easy’ agricultural life. The agricultural life resulted in the spread of many diseases due to man’s closeness with animals. Besides this, the agricultural life increased child mortality because it resulted in overpopulation.
Similarly, many people today take demanding jobs with high salaries believing that they’ll have an easy life because they’ll save, invest and retire in their mid-30s. However, by the time they are 30, they realize that they can’t leave their jobs because they have a family, a $100,000 mortgage, and a car to fuel. For this reason, they continue slaving away.
- Most of us Think in a Way that was Forced upon Our Ancestors
Today, many people across the world believe in principles such as human rights, nationalism, and liberalism because these ideas were forced upon their ancestors during colonialism. These ideas are not necessarily right because they came from people who imagined them and forced them upon our great-grandparents for the purpose of creating a structured culture.
- The Mind is Always Dissatisfied and Restless
When you have a painful experience, your mind will want the pain to go away. However, when you have a pleasurable experience, the mind will still be dissatisfied and restless because it will wish the pleasure remains.
- The Importance of Studying History
Studying history enables us to realize that the world’s present situation was avoidable and man-made. For instance, studying colonization enables us to realize that the current situation in Africa was man-made and avoidable. This situation could have been different if colonization could not have taken place.
- The Value of Admitting That You Don’t Know
If you admit that you don’t know about a particular topic, you’ll gain new knowledge because you’ll have to research and think deeply about the topic.
Scientific knowledge came into existence when human beings accepted that they knew nothing. This willingness to accept ignorance resulted in humans looking for new knowledge through observations and experiments hence resulting in the birth of science.
- Knowledge Enabled Europe to Colonize the Whole World
Unlike other powerful empires which conquered nations to acquire power and wealth, Europe conquered nations to gain knowledge. For instance, when Napoleon went to conquer Egypt, he took hundreds of researchers to study Egypt and its people. Besides this, when Britain conquered India it studied India’s military, and its culture hence making it easy to colonize Indians because it knew all their weaknesses and strengths.
Therefore, gathering knowledge about other nations enabled Europe to know their behavior, cultures, weak points, and strengths hence making it easy to colonize them.
- More Money Only Brings Happiness to Low-Income Earners
More money only brings happiness to low incomes earners because it enables them to afford more basic needs and comfort. A poor person earning $100 a month will be happy if his income tripled because he’ll be able to feed his family without the risk of running into debt. However, when a manager earning $300,000 a month wins $1,000,000 in the lottery, his happiness won’t increase because he will use the money to buy luxury goods that he will eventually get used to.
The above lessons are only a few of the many lessons in Yuval Harari’s wonderful book. I’m sorry you’ll have to read the book because I can’t provide you with every single lesson I learned from it. Just spare some time and read the book, and if you are an enlightened thinker you’ll realize the many pearls of wisdom in it.
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