I was listening to a really interesting podcast from Radiolab the other day. It was on the topic of zoos and how they have changed and what affects they really have on the animals inhabiting them. At one point the host was talking with a scientist who did a study on monkeys and the level of luxury with their cages. For the sake of understanding, they were broken down into classes; upper-class, middle-class and poor. The upper-class monkeys had enclosures that were much like nature with plenty of food variety and lots of toys to play with. The middle-class monkeys had less exciting enclosures and less toys, but nevertheless still not a bad place to live. The poverty level monkeys had a square cell with not much to do, and just adequate food to keep them healthy.
The scientists took brain scans of all of these monkeys and found that there wasn't much difference in the upper and middle-class monkeys. Their brains showed signs of growth and progression despite the differences in environments. The poor monkeys, on the other hand, showed significantly less brain growth - 20% to 40% less. Holy Moly.
As I sat there listening to this podcast at work, I couldn't help but be struck by how much I felt like those poor monkeys. Think about it, it is a great analogy for life (and really? How much different are we than those monkeys?) I'm at a job where I feel caged in daily. In a way I'm trapped. I hate being here, but I can't leave because there are absolutely no job openings around here. Northern Michigan is not exactly a hot bed of job opportunities right now. My creativity is squelched on a daily basis by my superiors, and most everyone is always in a pissy mood. We took a huge pay cut last month, and well, it gets kind of hard to stay optimistic under these conditions.
But going back to that study on monkeys...
The scientists eventually took the poverty level monkeys and placed them into nicer living conditions awaiting what they would see on the new brain scans. Within 2 to 4 weeks they noticed huge advancements in new growth. If one could guess by brain scans alone, one would assume that they were much happier monkeys.
And this is where the moral of the story comes in. How do you get yourself out of that stagnant cage? How do you get yourself to the next level where your brain can be challenged and allowed room for growth again? I'm not exactly sure at this point how I am going to get there, but I do know that it needs to happen. Change is definitely scary, but I think 10 more years of the exact same kind of misery is terrifying.
Here's to brainstorming a way to achieve one's dreams!
The very reason why I don't wig out and quit and a daily basis is that smiling little mug you see above. >sigh<