Well-being is realized by small steps but is truly no small thing.
– Zeno Founder of Stoic Philosophy (334 BC-262 BC)
I’ve been taking Robert Sapolsky’s biology course on YouTube on how stress impacts health. Here is a fun fact to help us frame the holidays during a pandemic:
Naked Mole Rats live in multi-generational social colonies underground and work together for the good of the group, each with specific roles. It was noticed that several rats were not doing any work, eating, lying around becoming obese. This lazy behavior challenged the theory that mole rats are highly altruistic, as these fat rats did not appear to be following the social order.
Turns out, when the rainy season comes, these fat rats approach the hole in the ground, turn around and stick their ample bottoms up to plug the hole, to keep the rain out. The “lazy rats” risk getting snatched by predators to protect the colony. So, the theory holds that every rat has a role.
As you gather (or not) this Thanksgiving, some strategies to weather this pandemic together from the altruistic animal world:
- Operate for the good of the group
- Suspend all judgment, we can never know the whole story
- Approach our people and our work with generous spirits
- Assume everyone is doing their absolute best (even though it may not appear so on first glance.)
Since travel seems to be off for the foreseeable future, Smarthistory in collaboration with the Khan Academy, is a world class video channel whose mission is to open cultural sights across the planet, for free. They cover topics from the cave dwellers to modern times. The videos are short, edgy, on-site, conversational, and often funny – hosted by two history professors. Check out this one on the Pantheon. The next best thing to going to Rome yourself.