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Antagonistic pleiotropy

We have come to where we are, in an evolutionary sense, through genetic mutations. And whenever genetic mutations occur, only those that are more useful for survival and propagation of the species are passed on.

However, some of these benefits that are beneficial in the short term might actually have negative effects in the long term. However, if the horizon for the negative effects is so long that it is much more likely for someone to die of natural causes before the negative effects of the mutation sets in, then such mutations are passed on simply for their short term benefits. This is one of the leading theories for why we undergo aging and didn't evolve to have much longer lifespans where we remained forever youthful.

This phenomenon, in a nutshell, is antagonistic pleiotropy.

Outside of the realm of genetic mutation and evolution, we face an equivalent of this phenomenon in our lives all the time. If we are to extend the analogy, we adopt practices, habits, beliefs and behaviours that help us in the immediate short-term, even though they might have a detrimental effect in the long-term. We collect possessions that are immediately useful but are net negative when we take into account what it takes to maintain it over the lifetime of it that we own it for.

We need to recognise the equivalent of antagonistic pleiotropy setting in and seek to evade it. What this means, simply, is to shed habits, beliefs, thoughts, perspectives, possessions that have outlived their purpose. 

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