Just Another Animal
You are a unique snowflake! At least that is what you have been told. If not by your friends then definitely by your family. Moms love this one. They tell their kids that they are the only one like them and that makes them special. This is somewhat true, however we are not all as unique as we like to think. Although we are each a somewhat special mix of genes we are also a lot more like each other and everything else than we care to admit.
One of the things that many people do not realize or at least don’t want to admit is the power of biology and in turn evolution has on their day-to-day life. From choices we make to fears we have and the way they control us. Many of these are similar to everyone else because we evolved as a species not as individuals. We often think that we are scared of certain things because of our own unique past and make choices accordingly. However what if we are programmed to respond certain ways to situations because of our biology. That means as a human being not as an individual. We could then learn the reasons for our fears by studying ours and other species and not feel so alone.
My view on this has developed over the past few years. I have always loved to learn about animals and nature of all kinds. I also have spent a lot of time learning about personal development. These two pursuits have always been separate until I realized they are the same thing. I made the most progress on my self-improvement journey when I realized I am no different from the animals I love and care for. When I analyzed my diet the way a zoo nutritionist would and not the way a human one would I was able to completely transform my body. When I added enrichment into my life as a routine I was happier. When I saw my relationships as something to be managed for everyone’s benefit they improved for all involved.
Lets start with diet. There is so much information out there that only serves to confuse and frustrate people. What diet is best? Should I eat only meat or only raw veggies? I personally tried so many variations it hurts my brain to think about it. It wasn’t until I looked at the fact that as a human primate I evolved to eat a certain way. Now I know there is a lot of controversy surrounding this topic and I don’t want to offend anyone’s moral compass. If you don’t eat certain foods due to moral or religious reasoning then good for you and I will not try to persuade you to change. However if we look at the human race as a primate species that evolved to where we are now then you must agree we did not get here by eating high fructose corn syrup. A whole food diet is not only best for us but all species on the planet. In zoos as more convenient pelleted diets became available and were more widely used there was a decrease in animal health. Obesity became a major issue. Many zoos have gone back to whole food diets especially for ape species and have seen great results. You would respond the same way. My rule of thumb is if I can’t identify the major ingredients by looking at it then I don’t want to eat it. This mindset has helped me lose over fifty pounds
Environmental enrichment is a term used in the animal world to describe any novel piece of equipment that is added to a habitat that will elicit some type of response. This could be a toy or puzzle or even a new piece of furniture. The idea is that something is added that make the animal think or react. Could be good, could be bad but it always gets a reaction. I use this in my life as a way of breaking out of ruts. Could be a new piece of training equipment or even a new book or podcast. Anything to mix things up and force my brain to think differently.
And now relationships. Most view their dealings with other people whether they are family, friends, or coworkers as a barter situations. If I do this for you then you will do something for me. This is not the most effective way relating to others. If you look at chimps which are our closest living relatives then you see a different way. Although they will barter for things like food or sex when it comes to dominance it is all about relationship. For one chimp to stay in power he must help and earn loyalty from many in the group. No one chimp is strong enough to stand alone. If you want the support of others in anything you do you must first support them in what they are doing. Not because you want something but because once that relationship is formed they will stand with you no matter what and that is priceless.
I’m sure I will delve into these topics with much greater depth in the future but this gives you a basic idea of where I am coming from. Please contact me with any comments or questions you may have.
E – The SwampApe