Let Me Pick Your Fleas, Altruistically Speaking Of Course.

two monkeys
Image via Flickr/Santhosh Janardhanan

We’ve all heard that we share more than enough similarities with our primate friends. We look relatively similar, and we both have that highly coveted opposable thumb. There are even some monkeys that have lifelong partners. Interestingly enough, the way that monkeys handle stress is something that can be seen to be effective within the human race as well.

Just a few days ago, The Wall Street Journal published a story that talked about how having an altruistic attitude can reduce stress. When someone is altruistic or lives a life based on altruism, this person does the things they do for the benefit of others. While I do think that we need to take the time to serve ourselves and do things that can be considered “selfish interests” (hobbies, sports, reading), I also think that we have the responsibility to take care of the people around us.

Is this to say that I should go to the guy three rows in front of me in class and start picking flakes of dandruff out of his hair just to lower my stress level? Well, I guess I could, but I think I’ll pass on that one.

In this article, Robert M. Sapolsky cited a study that was done by Stuart Semple and his colleagues from Roehampton University in London. (Now, if a guy and his scientific crew are from London, you know the study is legit.)As part of their experiment, Semple and his colleagues observed monkeys doing what monkeys do best: picking the bugs out of their buddy’s fur. They found that the monkey that was doing the picking had low stress hormone levels, and the monkeys that were getting the spa treatment lacked that low stress hormone level.

Is this to say that I should go to the guy three rows in front of me in class and start picking flakes of dandruff out of his hair just to lower my stress level? Well, I guess I could, but I think I’ll pass on that one. Is this to say that if I did go and pick that guy’s dandruff flakes, he would be under more stress? Not necessarily. Granted, that example was a little gross, but it’s the principle of the matter (and somewhat related to what monkeys do). Not only does serving others bring an inner peace to those who serve, but in the end, you’ll be helping out your friends, your family, your pet salamander, or whoever steps foot into your life.

We can start a cycle of love in our homes. Teach your own little monkeys (as some parents so lovingly call their kids) how to serve and how to love. 

I love the cycle that the monkeys create by helping each other. The monkey (we will call him Carl) is helping is buddy (we will call him Darrell) with those nasty fleas while simultaneously lowering stress. Carl has some pretty nasty fleas in his coat as well, but his little fingers can’t quite reach the problem areas. Now Darrell has a nice clean coat and he cares about his friend Carl, he offers his grooming services to Carl. Darrell, while having the satisfaction of helping Carl out, he is also lowering his levels of stress.

Win/Win.

I like it when everyone wins. I also like it when people are happy for other people’s happiness. It just makes life a little lovelier.

We can start a cycle of love in our homes. Teach your own little monkeys (as some parents so lovingly call their kids) how to serve and how to love. Have your kids make school lunches for each other; have your kids make each other’s beds; have your kids iron each other’s clothes. This attitude of love and service, if embraced and practiced, can branch out into the communities and make it your own little of paradise. We’re all on this rock together; we might as well be nice to each other while we struggle through our time here.

How do you foster this cycle of love and being good to one another in your own home and otherwise? 

What do you think?

Let Me Pick Your Fleas, Altruistically Speaking Of Course.

Jace Whatcott is a self-diagnosed introvert who loves crossword puzzles, golf, and reading. Despite being a male contributor—one of the few on this particular website—he is not in unfamiliar territory. Because he is an English major, 90% of his classmates are females, so he’s not too worried about being a fish out of water. One of his favorite things to do is to raid local thrift stores for used books. He’s always looking for something to read, or for something to put on his endless to-r ... More

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1 comment

  1. Profile photo of mommy nhoj mommy nhoj says:

    Do good. Be good. Give love!

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