Animals Compete and It's Not Always Pretty

Competition is not a survival threat, but it feels that way.

Posted Sep 14, 2013

I'm just trying to survive.

One way to manage this feeling is to "oppose" competition. But social rivalry is part of life as a mammal. If you get angry about competition, you can end up angry most of the time. You are better off learning to live with it. I’m not saying you should steal food from your brothers and sisters. I’m saying you can build insight into your brain's evolutionary preoccuption with social rivarly. Your survival is not at stake most of the time, but it feels that way because social dominance promotes survival in the state of nature. You can enjoy your life as a mammal among mammals if you understand your brain's heritage.

Building skills for next year's competition.

The imagined ideal of sea-lion life.

The nectar always seems harder to get at.

But the hummingbird doesn't get angry at the flower for obstructing rewards. That would be a waste of the hummingbird’s energy. 

Your energy is precious. You may be frustrated about obstructions that block your nectar. But getting mad at the obstructions is a waste of energy. You can invest it in strengthening your wings instead. You will end up with more nectar.

"It's not the nectar I care about," you may say. "It's the principle of the thing." But if your quest for principles leaves you angry at flowers a lot, you might want to remember the hummingbird.

A simple method for doing this is outlined in my new book, Beyond Cynical: Transcend Your Mammalian Negativity.