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The anxiety of trying to control everything

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Human brains evolved in a prehistoric world of day-to-day unpredictability and long-term stability. Today these same brains are thrust into an inverted world of day-to-day hyper-control and longer-term global volatility. We control room temperatures to the nearest degree and use Google Maps to route-plan to the nearest metre, yet face uncontrolled global warming and the looming shadow of Great Power warfare. The result is anxiety and a craving for yet more control. But, argues Brian Klaas, learning to relinquish some day-to-day control will help us to both recover the delights of serendipity and build societies less vulnerable to collapse. In 2024, our worries have taken on a dystopian, existential tint. Democracies are dying. Nuclear powers are engaged in a bloody proxy war in Ukraine. Our life-sustaining climatic ecosystem is collapsing as wildfires rage and oceans feel…

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