365 Lessons: #2
Zebras Don’t Sit Around Worried That Lions Might Try to Eat Them
Lesson #2 Break Down
Zebra + Attacking Lion = High Anxiety Zebra
Zebra + No Attacking Lion = Peaceful and Relaxed Zebra
Person + Attacking Lion = High Anxiety Person
Person + No Attacking Lion = High Anxiety Person
…If people function better when they are peaceful and relaxed we should try to be more like zebras.
Today’s lesson came during a conversation about the benefits of relaxation I had with a massage therapist. It makes sense that our minds and bodies work better when we’re peaceful and relaxed. Of course fear and anxiety are probably just as important as peacefulness and relaxation. The key is that everything has its time and place. The therapist told me that human beings are the only animals who spend prolonged periods of time in high anxiety “fight or flight” states. She suggested that rather than sitting around being worried, zebras only freak out about being eaten by lions when lions are actually trying to eat them. The rest of the time they simply go about the business of being Zebras.
She made some sense. It does seem like people walk around worried about all kinds of arguably unimportant things. Will I have time to make it to the dry cleaners this afternoon? Is she mad at me? Did I send that e-mail? Do you think they really liked my bean dip or were they just being nice? Not only do we seem like a generally worried bunch but lots of times that worry seems to infiltrate our thoughts, words, and actions. My wife’s great grandmother used to say that most of the things we worry about are never going to actually happen…and she’s right. Most things we worry about don’t actually happen, and better yet, most things we worry about don’t actually matter.
As an educator I realize that many of my students are worried too. Kids have really demanding lives. Given the high anxiety society in which they’re growing up and the multitude of real concerns that plague this generation of k-12 students, it seems that creating peaceful and relaxed environments in our classrooms couldn’t be more important to student achievement and attitudes toward learning. I’ve had teachers who were peaceful and relaxed and I’ve had teachers who were on edge. Thinking back on my education I realize how impactful each of my teacher’s attitudes and demeanors was on my learning. Todays lesson…Zebras make great teachers!