Our "Normal" Understanding
How & what we normally know & understand - our mindset, consciousness, or operating system - is hardwired for survival of our individual self, & with decreasing intensity (as our DNA progressively dilutes out) our family, our tribe, religion, nation, race, & species. Basically, it's all about "me, myself & I", all the way down the line - as suggested by: "My country, right or wrong!" and, referring to a caveman leader: "He's an a _ _ hole - but he's our a _ _ hole!
We share this basic self-preservation instinct with the simplest living organisms to great apes. Closely related are fight-freeze-flight responses to stress & the approach-avoidance dichotomy: http://mindfulnessforeveryone.blogspot.ca/2012/03/88-avoidance-approach-dichotomy.html
When the survival instinct is highly successful, one lives a long life, has lots of kids, all the way to abundant proliferation of one's own species. When least successful, one dies before reproducing, and one's species rapidly becomes extinct.
Not accidentally, this mindset closely resembles that of a widget-manufacturing company - the more widgets produced in the shortest time the better, and vice versa. Success (at this mindset) is easily quantifiable: quantity & speed. This mindset started its resurgence at the time of industrialization (mass production), is very strongly promoted in our culture by industry: http://healthyhealers.blogspot.ca/2016/01/unquenchable-hunger.html and now, many (most?) people firmly believe that this is the only viable, intelligent mindset.
"He who dies with the most toys wins." Malcolm Forbes
Our default collective mental & physical activity today is driven by survival. Even while sitting still, with nothing to do, we're planning, regretting & worrying - about "me", "my progeny" or things that may directly affect our survival.
If you doubt this last statement, try to sit still, quietly, for even 5 minutes, and observe the restlessness in your body & mind. What is your "self-talk" hounding you with? You'll find that you're not simply self-centered, but anxiously self-centered. See: http://mindfulnessforeveryone.blogspot.ca/2014/08/563-meditation-training-for-restless.html When we can't be physically doing survival activities, we're compulsively planning, regretting, or worrying about them. And this is today's "NORMAL"!
The amazing thing about living a human life is having the ability to objectively see ourselves - to self-reflect, to gain perspective. We can ask questions such as, 'What's the best that can happen if I pour every ounce of my time & energy into this survival project?' We can also observe what happens to others who appear to be "giving their all" to survival.
Then we could actually investigate to see if there's more to life than mere survival, and if there is, how to get there?: http://mindfulnessforeveryone.blogspot.ca/2014/07/551-primary-goal-selects-our-operating.html