Animals Enjoy Life – Do We?

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“I saw a chimpanzee gaze at a particularly beautiful sunset for a full 15 minutes, watching the changing colors, until it became so dark that he had to retire to the forest without stopping to pick a pawpaw for his evening meal.”  – Adriaan Kortlandt, wildlife researcher in Congo

So how come this chimp, threatened by leopards, searching for food in an endless “struggle for survival,” can stop to appreciate nature’s beauty, and we don’t? Well, according to a great book I just finished, Pleasurable Kingdom by Jonathan Balcombe, that’s what animals do. They play; they relax; they may even love. They enjoy life.   The endless struggle for survival is real, but it’s far from their whole story.

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12 Responses to Animals Enjoy Life – Do We?

  1. Lola Hart says:

    This was a wonderful article. It relaxes me to see beauty in most any form. I like verywarm unrushed baths, relaxation music, petting my little 3 year old Dachund. riding our 4-wheeler, I would love Yoga or other such areas.If you have any suggestions I would appreciate them. I also suffer from diabetes and severe depression. Thank you so much for a great learning tool. Lola Hart

  2. Angelee Dion says:

    I’ve spent the better part of this year “working” to realize my New Year’s Intention: to enjoy what I have and stop searching for “more” or “better.” That childhood conditioning– to focus on what’s wrong– is so deep in me it sure feels permanent. This story is a wonderful reminder that it’s not– or doesn’t have to be.

  3. Pat Gray says:

    I hope you spend that time watching the dogs play talking to the other people there. We need the companionship of others. We are social animals and I fear we are not doing ourselves justice by spending so much time alone. Our culture stresses the fear of the ‘other’ who, we are told, wants to hurt us. If we smile at people and say just a few friendly words we may find it makes our lives much better.

  4. Esther Roberts says:

    David, I know I have said this a lot of times (hopefully in a variety of ways!) 😉 Each one of your pieces really shimmers with recurring themes of hope and beauty woven through such a variety of stories. Thank you so much! You have long provided me with so much personal inspiration, and I really treasure the way you keep on giving in this way.

  5. jim snell says:

    Wonderfull insightful article reminding one of what is real value in life.

    Most instructive and the animal aspects and thoughts mot interesting.

    Best wishes and thank you.

  6. Sheryl says:

    David I have come to enjoy your writing so much. I am also reading your book “Diabetes: Sugar Coated Crisis”.
    I hope you don’t mind but I printed this article out share next Tuesday when I and some other ladies at my church have lunch with some women in a senior care center. I think they will enjoy it so much.
    Thank you so much for sharing your insights with all of us out here.

  7. Fall says:

    Thank you for the inspiring article, David. I am so glad to be reminded of the importance of enjoying life. You wrote: “Scientists like to say everything animals do is for survival value, but this is obviously not true.” I could not help speculating whether fun and enjoyment are not exceptions to the rule, but in fact have significant survival value — a value that is at least partially obscured from our understanding because we are so focused on producing, doing, performing, competing, justifying, proving etc. I recently spent two weeks on vacation (two weeks!) and by the second week I stopped having the urge to return work emails and began noticing how sweet the scent of the breeze was, how kind my friend’s eyes looked when she smiled … I took as my theme the Italian phrase “dolce far niente” – literally “the sweetness of doing nothing.” Aaahhhhhh. Your article makes me think that a little of this sweetness every day could be the biggest health discovery of the century…

  8. Dan Brook says:

    Another great article!

    We have a lot to learn from animals and we’re certainly much more like them than we usually like to admit.

    Also, I’m reminded of a fantastic book called *When Elephants Weep: The Emotional Lives of Animals*. I believe there’s also a book &/or film version about farm animals, who of course feel, think, and want to play just as much as any other animal.

  9. Roger Eaton says:

    Perhaps the nursery song, “Row row row your boat” is also telling us to take the hunter-gatherer attitude. Go with the flow, don’t be overwhelmed. Merrily, merrily, merrily merrily!

  10. Dick Heiser says:

    Your articles are always interesting and informative; this one was especially so. I’m very impressed by your candidness and awareness; you’re really expressing important, high-level ideas. Thanks!!

  11. kasey petteys says:

    Thanks David! I never considered that a monkey would spend time enjoying a sunset. Pretty cool 🙂
    I’ve been challenged by my husband to consider the distinction I make between “work” and “free time” –to accept that my “job” is something I choose and to choose a “job” that is fulfilling and worthwhile. He is always careful to say, “I’m going to the office” instead of “I’m going to work.” After many months of this I still find myself asking him, “How was work?” or “Don’t you have to work this Saturday?”
    Perhaps I’m fortunate to have the opportunity to choose a job that fulfills me, but in my fantasy world, we are all driven and inspired to do what we do!

    Thanks also for the invitation to spend more time in pleasure, and for the notion that this is actually healthy! I’m gonna aim for that!

  12. Pingback: Can We Live Without Hope? | The Inn by the Healing Path

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