Bird in Yala Park, Sri Lanka

What The Animals in Yala Park, Sri Lanka Taught Me

Sometimes I think that there are no better teachers in life than animals.  If we spend the time to really watch them, we can learn so much.  I had the opportunity to do just that in Yala Park in Sri Lanka, and this is what I learned.

Elephant in Yala park, sri lanka

1.  Determination

I watched an  elephant struggle with a tree branch for 15 minutes just to get to the leaves on the top of a tree.  There were plenty of other trees around with leaves that would have been easier to reach, but the elephant refused to move on until it had gotten all the leaves off of this one.  It made me think of where I could be in life if I had finished more projects that I had started rather than moving on to the next one when things got difficult.

Monkey in Yala Park, Sri Lanka

2.  Play More

I observed how playful the animals were even while working. It made me see how serious I can sometimes be.  Watching the playful energy of these animals has made me approach every part of life in a more playful way.  I’ve learned to laugh at myself more and not take myself so seriously.

Monkeys in Yala Park, Sri Lanka

3.  Spend More Time Watching The World Go By

While in Yala Park, I couldn’t help but notice how many of the animals just sat in stillness.  I realized that I haven’t really just sat doing nothing since I was a child.  Watching the peaceful serenity of the animals made me want this kind of calm that can only come from just being.

Monkeys in Yala Park, Sri Lanka

4.  Surround Yourself With Those You Love

I have often been a solitary wanderer in life.  I watched as all the animals seemed to go down to the water together.  They protected each other.  They played with each other.  They fought each other (and made up soon after).  They did everything together.  Their very survival depended upon it.  I think it’s very easy in life to forget how much we need each other.  And I’m not talking about just casual get-togethers at the local watering hole. We need friends who we are intimate with, people to share our deepest fears and dreams with.  I’ve been less of a solitary wanderer since watching these animals and have found life to be so much more fulfilling.

Elephants in Yala Park, Sri Lanka

5.  Be Compassionate

I watched another elephant give comfort to another by wrapping its trunk around the other elephants trunk after it got scared by a jackal.  I watched a mother monkey cradle a baby monkey after the baby had gotten upset.  I watched strong boars protectively guarding the weaker ones.  I watched water buffalo stand guard for the ones luxuriating in the water.  Life is just better if you aren’t just looking out for yourself.

What lessons have you learned from animals?  Leave a message in the comments below!

Valen Dawson at Yala Park in Sri Lanka