group of people putting their hands together

Survival of the Friendliest: The Key to Our Species’ Evolution

The book Humankind by the Dutch historian Rutger Bregman is the inspiration for this blog post. The author invites us to explore a different perspective. He argues that people are inherently decent at heart and proposes a new worldview based on the corollaries of this optimistic view of human beings. He explores, among other things, the concept of survival of the friendliest.

When it comes to understanding the evolution of our species, we often think of the phrase “survival of the fittest” and envision a brutal, dog-eat-dog world. While competition and adaptation certainly play significant roles in evolution, there’s another side to the story – the survival of the friendliest.

The Concept of Survival of the Friendliest

Bregman’s “Humankind” suggests that, instead of a relentless race for survival, our ancestors found immense value in forming social bonds and cooperating with one another. The idea of “survival of the friendliest” and cooperation and social bonds have been crucial drivers of human evolution.

Let’s see some of the findings from this book.

1. Social Creatures: Humans are inherently social beings. From our early ancestors to modern-day societies, our survival has been closely linked to our ability to connect and work together.

2. Shared Resources: Early humans discovered that sharing resources like food and shelter not only increased their chances of individual survival but also created stronger bonds within the group. Cooperation became a survival strategy.

3. Cognitive Advantages: The need to work together requires more advanced cognitive abilities. This pressure led to the development of complex language, problem-solving skills, and emotional intelligence, setting us apart from other species.

4. Adaptation: While being friendly was crucial, humans also adapted to different environments. From the freezing tundras to scorching deserts, our adaptability was aided by our ability to cooperate and share knowledge.

5. Community and Protection: Living in groups protected against predators and other threats. The more cooperative a community was, the better it could fend off dangers.

Modern Implications

Imagine a world where the adage “survival of the fittest” is not the only driving force behind our existence. Bregman’s book shows us a world through the lens of “survival of the friendliest,” where cooperation and the bonds we forge with one another play a starring role in shaping our present and our future.

In our interconnected world, the ability to build meaningful social bonds and collaborate remains as essential as ever. From the warmth of family relationships to the vast networks of global communities, our capacity to connect and work together defines the very fabric of society.

As we navigate the digital age, technology acts as a bridge that brings us closer together. Platforms like social media enable us to not only share our stories but also connect with others on a global scale. The exchange of knowledge, ideas, and experiences flourishes in this interconnected world.

Now, consider the challenges that transcend borders and boundaries – issues like climate change and pandemics. These global difficulties demand international cooperation. The ability to put aside differences and work collectively for the common good emerges as a beacon of hope in the face of these complex problems.

In the work landscape, successful companies understand the power of collaboration. They foster a culture where employees from diverse backgrounds come together to innovate and solve problems. In this collaborative environment, groundbreaking ideas take shape, and innovation thrives.


I found extraordinary the book’s idea that humans are fundamentally good at heart, especially because things aren’t going that well nowadays in the world.

This optimistic perspective invites us to reconsider our approach to understanding the present and set the basis of our future. While “survival of the fittest” underscores competition in nature, “survival of the friendliest” reminds us that cooperation and social bonds have played an equally vital role in our journey as a species.

In tackling the complexities of the modern world, let’s embrace the idea that being friendly and cooperative isn’t just a commendable trait. It’s an intrinsic part of what makes us human.

What do you think about this new perspective on us, the humankind?

Thank you for reading my post on Wise & Shine. If you want to read more from me, please visit my blog.

7 thoughts on “Survival of the Friendliest: The Key to Our Species’ Evolution

  1. It should be this way, if we are supposed to be the most “evolved” species. Frankly, I always detested that phrase, “Survival of the fittest” because it sounds arrogant, with no regard for orhers.

    1. Oh yes Pamela, you are so right about the phrase “survival of the fittest”. I always think I wouldn’t survive, while I think I have more chances with “survival of the friendliest”. Thank you for commenting!

  2. I love this, Cristiana. It is very hopeful. And it reminds me of Nicholas Christakis’ sociology work that talks about human as one of the only species that cooperates outside of the family structure. Survival of the friendliest – an intrinsic part of being human indeed!

  3. In a world where negativity often dominates the news, the idea that humans are fundamentally good at heart is extraordinary. It invites us to reconsider how we perceive ourselves and others, and it provides a hopeful foundation for shaping a better future. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thank you for reading and commenting! I agree with you that the news are mainly negative and overwhelming. I only read or watch the headlines as I got stressed but them.

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