Blog Post

Animal spirits

May 1, 2021

I took the dog to the park today. He was straining at the leash and whining with barely restrained excitement as we approached the unofficial play area. As soon as I unbuckled his leash, he was off like a shot, bounding and jumping among the other dogs. A pure expression of joy.

John Maynard Keynes spoke of "animal spirts" -- the emotional mindset that governs many of our decisions. Fear, anger, greed, happiness. These feelings play an especially dominant role in times of stress and uncertainty. Despite our best efforts, they are never far from the surface. Rather than ignore them, we should learn to be more self aware and acknowledge their influence. Sometimes, it's useful to know we're motivated by fear. Other times, it's liberating to take a joyful leap into the big unknown.

Some additional thoughts for these times.

We've all had to adjust and learn new things on the fly over the past year. In the process, we've been exercising an important character trait -- our curiosity. As we've been pushed to adapt, we've questioned, we've explored and we've learned. Curiosity is a muscle to use constantly. A curious mind prompts us to question assumptions, change our perspectives and engenders creativity.

I had an audio conference call the other day and it was so refreshing. I could walk around and focus my entire attention on the words that were being spoken. Or not, which was probably the most refreshing part. Yes, eye contact and facial expressions are important these days but Zoom meetings all day long are exhausting. If you can't avoid the meeting altogether, go audio-only and take a nice walk while you're at it!

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