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Are you paying attention to the animals?

Last week, I shared The Great Silence by Ted Chiang, and I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. Since I read it, I have been thinking about the wisdom animals have to teach us.

When was the last time an animal stepped on a scale (first thing in the morning, before eating, but after showering) and said to itself, "Ugh"? Never, in case you wondered.

When animals get into a fight or disagreement, once it's over, they just go their separate ways. They don't hold a grudge; they don't ruminate. They let it go. There are many fables/stories that illustrate this one. Here's one from Eckhardt Tolle. And here's an old one from ancient Zen teachings.

If a storm comes by and destroys a spider's web, the spider just rebuilds, with its focus on the task at hand and catching tonight's dinner.

Animals do not gloat, they don't berate or bemoan. Animals don't criticize themselves or second-guess their choices. Animals accept and move on. We can learn a lot from them. Of course, animals DO learn. They learn where the food is, where danger is and where the safe places are.

Furthermore, animals do reward those they trust with affection, dedication and even, sometimes, protection. Animals have some traits we associate with humans, for sure. And let us not forget that we are animals. But let us also remember that that-which-makes-us-human may also be what makes us discontented.

When you are feeling discontented, ask yourself what would a duck do?

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