5 Life Lessons We Can Learn From Animals

Let the animal kingdom teach you some valuable life lessons.

Jan 26, 2015
dog and person high five

There is much to learn from the animal kingdom. [Shutterstock]

Animals have their own social rules, codes of conduct and methods of communication. Like humans, not every animal is alike, but there are specific behavioral patterns in certain creatures that are worth noting. This list highlights five valuable lessons that we can learn from our animal counterparts, which can enhance our lives and the lives of those around us.   

1. TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS

Some people call it listening to your gut, others refer to it as that little voice in your head. Either way, there is definitely something that alerts us about the best course of action to take in almost any situation. The real question is  - how often do we pay attention to important signals about events, circumstances and the people around us? Animals rely solely on their instincts, trusting their senses and reacting to their environment accordingly.
RELEASE THE ANIMAL IN YOU: Give your brain a break! Instead of analyzing a situation from 20 different angles, listen to what your instincts are telling you, and harness those deep seated survival skills that all humans are born with.

tiger ready to pounce

This tiger is ready to pounce. [Image from Flickr user Eric Gorski]

2. RESPECT YOUR ELDERS

Wisdom and knowledge is oftentimes passed down from older people to the younger generation. Those with more years on the planet have amassed a wealth of information, experience and acumen that is worth making the time to listen to and learn from. Elephants know this to be true and their matriarchs remain the leaders of African elephant tribes till they pass away.
RELEASE THE ANIMAL IN YOU: Spend some time with an elderly relative or neighbor. Be sure to pay close attention to the conversation, and snag some incredible nuggets of wisdom from the interaction.

A group of African elephants

A group of African elephants with the matriarch at the helm. [Shutterstock]

3. REACH YOUR GOALS AND PERSEVERE

Whether you have a big exam coming up or you’re looking to make the leap and switch careers, goals can seem lofty and hard to attain. Chin up! Salmon swim thousands of miles upstream just to make it back to their birthplace so that they can properly spawn their next generation – enduring extreme physical odds.
RELEASE THE ANIMAL IN YOU: Turn your intentions into action with a little bit of help and support from your friends. If you are looking for inspiration on how to keep on track, consult this proactive list of 5 tips on how to achieve your goals.

Salmon swimming upstream

Salmon swimming upstream all in an effort to spawn. [Shutterstock]

4. LIVE SUSTAINABLY

The planet is full of natural resources and it is up to us to make sure that we are conscious of our carbon footprint - keeping track of how much we purchase and throw away. We can take a cue from octopi who are some of the thriftiest invertebrates out there building shelters out of discarded debris – modern day repurposing if you will.
RELEASE THE ANIMAL IN YOU: There are ways to recycle and reduce waste here or there, but if you are really ambitious, try living a zero-waste lifestyle with these seven easy tips.

A veined octupus using a nut shell and clam shell as shelter

A veined octupus using a nut shell and clam shell as shelter. [Wikipedia]

5. PLAY FAIR

Playing fair is a skill that we’re taught when we’re young and includes learning how to share and take turns. These skills are the building blocks of positive human interaction and remind us to consider others - even when we are having fun. Canids, which include wolves, jackals, foxes and domestic dogs, have a distinct code of play that embodies playing by the rules, clear communication, apologizing when necessary and being sincere.
RELEASE THE ANIMAL IN YOU: Be mindful of how you interact with others and how inclined you are to share and wait your turn. Take your cue from these kids who were part of a social experiment in Spain, which shows how important sharing and giving is at all ages.

Dogs playing together

Dogs playing together. [Shutterstock]

Shoshana radiates doing good, driven by a love for people and community. Among many topics, she writes about friendship, creativity and healthy living.

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