My 9-year old daughter read something interesting to me the other day. According to the book she was reading, the brains of wild animals are bigger and sharper than that of their domestic cousins. For example, the brain of a wolf or coyote is proportionally bigger than the brains of your household pet, Fido.
Scientist believe that the reason for such a statistically significant difference in brain size and functioning has to do with the wild animal’s drive for survival. Whether hunting other wild animals or trying to figure out how to get into a hen house, a coyote, for example, spends much of its energy in pursuit of its next meal. If the coyote stops hunting, it stops eating. When the coyote stops eating, it dies. If the coyote is careless in its hunt by attacking an animal that is too strong or dangerous–or one that stands on two legs and carries a gun–the coyote dies.
Contrast that to Fido, or, in my case, Zipper. My dog spends 23 and a half hours each day sleeping in a shady spot under a tree. During her 30 waking minutes, Zipper drinks the cool water I bring her, eats the fresh dog food I put in her bowl, and fertilizes my lawn by–well, recycling the water and food I gave her. In other words, Zipper lives a life of leisure. She has no concerns for her “daily bread” because I deliver it to her on a chrome-plated platter of sorts.
The life of a coyote is hard. At times, food is scarce, and even when food seems plentiful, things like fences, hunters, and other animals make survival an ongoing challenge. But those hardships make the brain of the wild animal bigger and smarter. Without smarts, the animal will not survive. The dog, living a life of ease, gives no thoughts for her next meal. She knows that it will arrive on time each day, and she is free to scratch, sniff, and sleep all day long. As a result, the brain of your typical domestic dog is smaller and less sharp than it’s wild, survivalist cousins.
Are you experiencing challenges today? Are you fighting for your own survival of sorts? Maybe you’re tired of scrapping for your next meal, sleeping with one eye open, or feeling envy when you see your “dog” friends living lives of ease. Encourage yourself with this: you are developing resilience, perseverance, and character, traits seldom learned while sitting in the shade while someone brings you dinner or a fancy drink with a little umbrella in it. The trials and hardships that are in your life actually make you better, make you smarter. And unlike wild animals, most of which live and die in the wild without ever experiencing any plateau of ease, remind yourself that your situation is temporary; however, the lessons you are acquiring in your trials are yours forever.
Let the words of the Persian poet be your mantra today when hardships threaten to defeat you: